…wealth and privilege, and privilege without wealth…

…as art imitates life

In Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-first Century he points to the wealth of the ‘upper class’ (10%) in Europe, a wealth that would be decimated, even destroyed for several, during the two world wars, even if recuperating somewhat afterward. To support his view we have a look at the movies. This one is set during the World War II. In it we witness the strict class lines, social status to which there has to be unquestioned adherence, despite some aspirations.

The movie is Five Fingers (still on Youtube?) with the late James Mason, Danielle Darrieux, and Michael Rennie, the lead stars. It is a fictional interpretation of a true story. Aside the fact that the movie excels in the areas of script (couple faux pas, aside), dialogue, acting and drama, we have some classic one liners, with one especially apt and cutting. But first, some background. Read the rest of this entry »

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…an iterative guide to MSM distractions from economic reality…

…first thing, we wish the best of luck to Kim, Kanye, Paris HIlton (?) and their fellow travelers, and move on quickly…

On the economy and the status of citizens, how informative has been the MSM, especially the US MSM, cable and network? Exactly.

On the subject of inequality and declining quality of life, aside newest or just new smartphone, precious little. For over a decade economists have been pointing to the increasing inequality in the ‘advanced’ countries, especially the US and the UK, as many ‘developing’ countries, especially of Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), continued their policies to alleviate poverty and inequality, even despite strong opposition from a hostile North. Of course, many leading politicians of the north have done their part in ignoring the very issue, as their corporate benefactors would expect.

Handy references on inequality. Read the rest of this entry »


…equal opportunity for the more equal…

…talent and tenacity will always prevail?…

Chris Giles of the Financial Times (pay wall after a few views) in an article of 23 May had launched a broadside against Thomas Piketty’s book, where he sought to discredit Piketty’s work, in particular the data. In examining one element of Piketty’s argument, he would famously observe,  ‘…I discovered that his estimates of wealth inequality – the centrepiece of Capital in the 21st Century – are undercut by a series of problems and errors. Some issues concern sourcing and definitional problems. Some numbers appear simply to be constructed out of thin air.’

So then, a dishonest economist. An economist who, in collaboration with colleagues, has had all the data, code, and references readily available online? The issue? Basically, Piketty had asserted wealth in the US and the UK has been increasing for the tiny minority. But we leave the fine points aside to attend to some useful distractions. From the Independent, an observation, Britain’s land is still owned by an aristocratic elite – but it doesn’t have to be this way Read the rest of this entry »


…eh bien, the style of piketty, now in fashion?…

…sacre bleu!…

As if it could not deteriorate further, the NYT features an article on Thomas Piketty, and does so in its Style and Fashion Section. Its Sam Tanenhaus examines how much of a fad that Piketty has become. Most will know of, or those familiar with economics are reading or may have read, Piketty’s, Capitalism in the Twenty-First Century, where he highlights with analysis and substantial supporting data the rise of inequality in the US, a country whose progressive tax system had once been successful in achieving laudable income equality with economic growth and restraining such an unwholesome trajectory until the late 1970s. So what do we have? Read the rest of this entry »


…inequality…gathering of the intellects…

Thanks to Mark Thoma over at economists blog, we have this discussion on inequality hosted at the Graduate Center, City University of New York (CUNY). Discussants: Durlauf, Milanovic, Stiglitz, Krugman, Piketty.

Thomas Piketty’s, chef d’oeuvre,  Capital in the Twenty-First Century is the subject. Strong returns on the investment of time.

 


…to the manor born and to the hovel sentenced…

Upstairs, downstairs. As the world turns, things seem to turn not for the better – for the great unwashed? Inequality, so evident and so little remarked on by most public officials, and worse, not even perfunctorily acted on. 

When Pope Francis in late November 2013 delivered his apostolic exhortation on inequality and the role of unfettered capitalism in its continuing increase, that famous exceptionalist politician was quick to seek to co-opt the issue. Inequality would be declared with ‘gravitas’ to be ‘…the defining challenge of our time…’ He would then recommend a measly minimum wage of US10.10/hour for some workers in the US and all would be well – no need to mention the slashing of some social programmes and extended unemployment benefits. Problem solved and subsequent substantial personal wealth assured. And the dutiful MSM moved on – but others in the US and elsewhere chose not to, as we shall see. Read the rest of this entry »