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The Piketty Phenomenon

There’s a new book generating a lot of buzz, and it’s not a dystopian fantasy or tell-all celebrity memoir but a hefty economics tome, weighing in at almost seven hundred pages. French economist Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century has been the subject of a spate of recent editorials and reviews (including two op-ed pieces in The New York Times on the same day), and pundits have been debating his ideas all over the airwaves.

Piketty looks at how historically, the rate of return on capital (investments) has tended to outpace economic growth. This trend according to him is accelerating now, leading to the rise in income inequality that is widely discussed these days. Read Capital in the Twenty-First Century to see if you agree with Piketty; also, check out the following titles (including a DVD) in Richland Library’s collection that look at the same issue of income inequality.


Amazon Says: A passionate argument on behalf of the middle class, Inequality for All features Robert Reich–professor, best-selling author, and Clinton cabinet member–as he demonstrates more...
Amazon Says: A passionate argument on behalf of the middle class, Inequality for All features Robert Reich–professor, best-selling author, and Clinton cabinet member–as he demonstrates how the widening income gap has a devastating impact on the American economy. The film is an intimate portrait of a man whose lifelong goal remains protecting those who are unable to protect themselves. Through his singular perspective, Reich explains how the massive consolidation of wealth by a precious few threatens the viability of the American workforce and the foundation of democracy itself. In this Inconvenient Truth for the economy, Reich uses humor and a wide array of facts to explain how the issue of economic inequality affects each and every one of us. less...
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Amazon Says: What are the grand dynamics that drive the accumulation and distribution of capital? Questions about the long-term evolution of inequality, the concentration of wealth, and more...
Amazon Says: What are the grand dynamics that drive the accumulation and distribution of capital? Questions about the long-term evolution of inequality, the concentration of wealth, and the prospects for economic growth lie at the heart of political economy. But satisfactory answers have been hard to find for lack of adequate data and clear guiding theories. In Capital in the Twenty-First Century, Thomas Piketty analyzes a unique collection of data from twenty countries, ranging as far back as the eighteenth century, to uncover key economic and social patterns. His findings will transform debate and set the agenda for the next generation of thought about wealth and inequality. Piketty shows that modern economic growth and the diffusion of knowledge have allowed us to avoid inequalities on the apocalyptic scale predicted by Karl Marx. But we have not modified the deep structures of capital and inequality as much as we thought in the optimistic decades following World War II. The main driver of inequality--the tendency of returns on capital to exceed the rate of economic growth--today threatens to generate extreme inequalities that stir discontent and undermine democratic values. But economic trends are not acts of God. Political action has curbed dangerous inequalities in the past, Piketty says, and may do so again. A work of extraordinary ambition, originality, and rigor, Capital in the Twenty-First Century reorients our understanding of economic history and confronts us with sobering lessons for today. less...
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Amazon Says: The issue of inequality has irrefutably returned to the fore, riding on the anger against Wall Street following the 2008 financial crisis and the concentration of economic and more...
Amazon Says: The issue of inequality has irrefutably returned to the fore, riding on the anger against Wall Street following the 2008 financial crisis and the concentration of economic and political power in the hands of the super–rich. The Occupy movement made the plight of the 99 percent an indelible part of the public consciousness, and concerns about inequality were a decisive factor in the 2012 presidential elections. How bad is it? According to Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist David Cay Johnston, most Americans, in inflation–adjusted terms, are now back to the average income of 1966. Shockingly, from 2009 to 2011, the top 1 percent got 121 percent of the income gains while the bottom 99 percent saw their income fall. Yet in this most unequal of developed nations, every aspect of inequality remains hotly contested and poorly understood. Divided collects the writings of leading scholars, activists, and journalists to provide an illuminating, multifaceted look at inequality in America, exploring its devastating implications in areas as diverse as education, justice, health care, social mobility, and political representation. Provocative and eminently readable, here is an essential resource for anyone who cares about the future of America—and compelling evidence that inequality can be ignored only at the nation’s peril. less...
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Amazon Says: NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE WASHINGTON POST, NPR, AND KIRKUS REVIEWS A scathing portrait of an urgent new American crisis more...
Amazon Says: NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE WASHINGTON POST, NPR, AND KIRKUS REVIEWS A scathing portrait of an urgent new American crisis   Over the last two decades, America has been falling deeper and deeper into a statistical mystery:   Poverty goes up. Crime goes down. The prison population doubles. Fraud by the rich wipes out 40 percent of the world’s wealth. The rich get massively richer. No one goes to jail.   In search of a solution, journalist Matt Taibbi discovered the Divide, the seam in American life where our two most troubling trends—growing wealth inequality and mass incarceration—come together, driven by a dramatic shift in American citizenship: Our basic rights are now determined by our wealth or poverty. The Divide is what allows massively destructive fraud by the hyperwealthy to go unpunished, while turning poverty itself into a crime—but it’s impossible to see until you look at these two alarming trends side by side.   In The Divide, Matt Taibbi takes readers on a galvanizing journey through both sides of our new system of justice—the fun-house-mirror worlds of the untouchably wealthy and the criminalized poor. He uncovers the startling looting that preceded the financial collapse; a wild conspiracy of billionaire hedge fund managers to destroy a company through dirty tricks; and the story of a whistleblower who gets in the way of the largest banks in America, only to find herself in the crosshairs. On the other side of the Divide, Taibbi takes us to the front lines of the immigrant dragnet; into the newly punitive welfare system which treats its beneficiaries as thieves; and deep inside the stop-and-frisk world, where standing in front of your own home has become an arrestable offense. As he narrates these incredible stories, he draws out and analyzes their common source: a perverse new standard of justice, based on a radical, disturbing new vision of civil rights.   Through astonishing—and enraging—accounts of the high-stakes capers of the wealthy and nightmare stories of regular people caught in the Divide’s punishing logic, Taibbi lays bare one of the greatest challenges we face in contemporary American life: surviving a system that devours the lives of the poor, turns a blind eye to the destructive crimes of the wealthy, and implicates us all. Praise for The Divide   “Ambitious . . . deeply reported, highly compelling . . . impossible to put down.”—The New York Times Book Review   “These are the stories that will keep you up at night. . . . The Divide is not just a report from the new America; it is advocacy journalism at its finest.”—Los Angeles Times   “Taibbi is a relentless investigative reporter. He takes readers inside not only investment banks, hedge funds and the blood sport of short-sellers, but into the lives of the needy, minorities, street drifters and illegal immigrants. . . . The Divide is an important book. Its documentation is powerful and shocking.”—The Washington Post   “Captivating . . . The Divide enshrines its author’s position as one of the most important voices in contemporary American journalism.”—The Independent (UK)   “Taibbi [is] perhaps the greatest reporter on Wall Street’s crimes in the modern era.”—Salon less...
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Amazon Says: One of our most incisive and committed journalists—author of the classic All the Livelong Day—shows us the real human cost of our economic follies. The Great Rece more...
Amazon Says: One of our most incisive and committed journalists—author of the classic All the Livelong Day—shows us the real human cost of our economic follies. The Great Recession has thrown huge economic chal­lenges at almost all Americans save the super-affluent few, and we are only now beginning to reckon up the human toll it is taking. Down the Up Escalator is an urgent dispatch from the front lines of our vast collective struggle to keep our heads above water and maybe even—someday—get ahead. Garson has interviewed an economically and geographically wide variety of Americans to show the pain­ful waste in all this loss and insecurity, and describe how individuals are coping. Her broader historical focus, though, is on the causes and consequences of the long stag­nation of wages and how it has resulted in an increasingly desperate reliance on credit and a series of ever-larger bubbles—stocks, technology, real estate. This is no way to run an economy, or a democracy. From the members of the Pink Slip Club in New York, to a California home health-care aide on the eve of eviction, to a subprime mortgage broker who still thinks it could have worked, Down the Up Escalator presents a sobering picture of what happens to a society when it becomes economically organized to benefit only the very rich and the quick-buck speculators. But it also demonstrates the wit and resilience of ordinary Americans—and why they deserve so much bet­ter than the hand they’ve been dealt. less...
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Amazon Says: The world is a better place than it used to be. People are wealthier and healthier, and live longer lives. Yet the escapes from destitution by so many have left gaping in more...
Amazon Says: The world is a better place than it used to be. People are wealthier and healthier, and live longer lives. Yet the escapes from destitution by so many have left gaping inequalities between people and between nations. In The Great Escape, Angus Deaton--one of the foremost experts on economic development and on poverty--tells the remarkable story of how, starting 250 years ago, some parts of the world began to experience sustained progress, opening up gaps and setting the stage for today's hugely unequal world. Deaton takes an in-depth look at the historical and ongoing patterns behind the health and wealth of nations, and he addresses what needs to be done to help those left behind. Deaton describes vast innovations and wrenching setbacks: the successes of antibiotics, pest control, vaccinations, and clean water on the one hand, and disastrous famines and the HIV/AIDS epidemic on the other. He examines the United States, a nation that has prospered but is today experiencing slower growth and increasing inequality. He also considers how economic growth in India and China has improved the lives of more than a billion people. Deaton argues that international aid has been ineffective and even harmful. He suggests alternative efforts--including reforming incentives to drug companies and lifting trade restrictions--that will allow the developing world to bring about its own Great Escape. Demonstrating how changes in health and living standards have transformed our lives, The Great Escape is a powerful guide to addressing the well-being of all nations. less...
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Amazon Says: As Wall Street rose to dominate the U.S. economy, income and pay inequalities in America came to dance to the tune of the credit cycle. As the reach of financial markets exte more...
Amazon Says: As Wall Street rose to dominate the U.S. economy, income and pay inequalities in America came to dance to the tune of the credit cycle. As the reach of financial markets extended across the globe, interest rates, debt, and debt crises became the dominant forces driving the rise of economic inequality almost everywhere. Thus the "super-bubble" that investor George Soros identified in rich countries for the two decades after 1980 was a super-crisis for the 99 percent-not just in the U.S. but the entire world. Inequality and Instability demonstrates that finance is the driveshaft that links inequality to economic instability. The book challenges those, mainly on the right, who see mysterious forces of technology behind rising inequality. And it also challenges those, mainly on the left, who have placed the blame narrowly on trade and outsourcing. Inequality and Instability presents straightforward evidence that the rise of inequality mirrors the stock market in the U.S. and the rise of finance and of free-market policies elsewhere. Starting from the premise that fresh argument requires fresh evidence, James K. Galbraith brings new data to bear as never before, presenting information built up over fifteen years in easily understood charts and tables. By measuring inequality at the right geographic scale, Galbraith shows that more equal societies systematically enjoy lower unemployment. He shows how this plays out inside Europe, between Europe and the United States, and in modern China. He explains that the dramatic rise of inequality in the U.S. in the 1990s reflected a finance-driven technology boom that concentrated incomes in just five counties, very remote from the experience of most Americans-which helps explain why the political reaction was so slow to come. That the reaction is occurring now, however, is beyond doubt. In the aftermath of the Great Financial Crisis, inequality has become, in America and the world over, the central issue. A landmark work of research and original insight, Inequality and Instability will change forever the way we understand this pivotal topic. less...
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Amazon Says:  For the past three decades, America has steadily become a nation of haves and have-nots. Our incomes are increasingly drastically unequal: the top 1% of Americans collect al more...
Amazon Says:  For the past three decades, America has steadily become a nation of haves and have-nots. Our incomes are increasingly drastically unequal: the top 1% of Americans collect almost 20% of the nation’s income—more than double their share in 1973. We have less equality of income than Venezuela, Kenya, or Yemen.What economics Nobelist Paul Krugman terms "the Great Divergence" has until now been treated as little more than a talking point, a club to be wielded in ideological battles. But it may be the most important change in this country during our lifetimes—a sharp, fundamental shift in the character of American society, and not at all for the better.The income gap has been blamed on everything from computers to immigration, but its causes and consequences call for a patient, non-partisan exploration. In The Great Divergence, Timothy Noah delivers this urgently needed inquiry, ignoring political rhetoric and drawing on the best work of contemporary researchers to peer beyond conventional wisdom. Noah explains not only how "the Great Divergence" has come about, but why it threatens American democracy—and most important, how we can begin to reverse it.The Great Divergence is poised to be one of the most talked-about books of 2012, a jump-start to the national conversation about what kind of society we aspire to be in the 21st century: a land of equality, or a city on a hill—with a slum at the bottom. less...
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Amazon Says: A forceful argument against America's vicious circle of growing inequality by the Nobel Prize–winning economist. The top 1 percent of Americans control 40 percent of the nat more...
Amazon Says: A forceful argument against America's vicious circle of growing inequality by the Nobel Prize–winning economist. The top 1 percent of Americans control 40 percent of the nation’s wealth. And, as Joseph E. Stiglitz explains, while those at the top enjoy the best health care, education, and benefits of wealth, they fail to realize that “their fate is bound up with how the other 99 percent live.” Stiglitz draws on his deep understanding of economics to show that growing inequality is not inevitable: moneyed interests compound their wealth by stifling true, dynamic capitalism. They have made America the most unequal advanced industrial country while crippling growth, trampling on the rule of law, and undermining democracy. The result: a divided society that cannot tackle its most pressing problems. With characteristic insight, Stiglitz examines our current state, then teases out its implications for democracy, for monetary and budgetary policy, and for globalization. He closes with a plan for a more just and prosperous future. less...
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Amazon Says: Pulitzer Prize winner Hedrick Smith’s new book is an extraordinary achievement, an eye-opening account of how, over the past four decades, the American Dream has been disman more...
Amazon Says: Pulitzer Prize winner Hedrick Smith’s new book is an extraordinary achievement, an eye-opening account of how, over the past four decades, the American Dream has been dismantled and we became two Americas.   In his bestselling The Russians, Smith took millions of readers inside the Soviet Union. In The Power Game, he took us inside Washington’s corridors of power. Now Smith takes us across America to show how seismic changes, sparked by a sequence of landmark political and economic decisions, have transformed America. As only a veteran reporter can, Smith fits the puzzle together, starting with Lewis Powell’s provocative memo that triggered a political rebellion that dramatically altered the landscape of power from then until today.   This is a book full of surprises and revelations—the accidental beginnings of the 401(k) plan, with disastrous economic consequences for many; the major policy changes that began under Jimmy Carter; how the New Economy disrupted America’s engine of shared prosperity, the “virtuous circle” of growth, and how America lost the title of “Land of Opportunity.” Smith documents the transfer of $6 trillion in middle-class wealth from homeowners to banks even before the housing boom went bust, and how the U.S. policy tilt favoring the rich is stunting America’s economic growth.   This book is essential reading for all of us who want to understand America today, or why average Americans are struggling to keep afloat. Smith reveals how pivotal laws and policies were altered while the public wasn’t looking, how Congress often ignores public opinion, why moderate politicians got shoved to the sidelines, and how Wall Street often wins politically by hiring over 1,400 former government officials as lobbyists.   Smith talks to a wide range of people, telling the stories of Americans high and low. From political leaders such as Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich, and Martin Luther King, Jr., to CEOs such as Al Dunlap, Bob Galvin, and Andy Grove, to heartland Middle Americans such as airline mechanic Pat O’Neill, software systems manager Kristine Serrano, small businessman John Terboss, and subcontractor Eliseo Guardado, Smith puts a human face on how middle-class America and the American Dream have been undermined.   This magnificent work of history and reportage is filled with the penetrating insights, provocative discoveries, and the great empathy of a master journalist. Finally, Smith offers ideas for restoring America’s great promise and reclaiming the American Dream. Praise for Who Stole the American Dream?   “[A] sweeping, authoritative examination of the last four decades of the American economic experience.”—The Huffington Post   “Some fine work has been done in explaining the mess we’re in. . . . But no book goes to the headwaters with the precision, detail and accessibility of Smith.”—The Seattle Times   “Sweeping in scope . . . [Smith] posits some steps that could alleviate the problems of the United States.”—USA Today   “Brilliant . . . [a] remarkably comprehensive and coherent analysis of and prescriptions for America’s contemporary economic malaise.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)   “Smith enlivens his narrative with portraits of the people caught up in events, humanizing complex subjects often rendered sterile in economic analysis. . . . The human face of the story is inseparable from the history.”—Reuters less...
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Amazon Says: Who is the richest person in the world, ever? Does where you were born affect how much money you’ll earn over a lifetime? How would we know? Why—beyond the idle curiosity more...
Amazon Says: Who is the richest person in the world, ever? Does where you were born affect how much money you’ll earn over a lifetime? How would we know? Why—beyond the idle curiosity—do these questions even matter? In The Haves and the Have-Nots, Branko Milanovic, one of the world’s leading experts on wealth, poverty, and the gap that separates them, explains these and other mysteries of how wealth is unevenly spread throughout our world, now and through time. Milanovic uses history, literature and stories straight out of today’s newspapers, to discuss one of the major divisions in our social lives: between the haves and the have-nots. He reveals just how rich Elizabeth Bennet’s suitor Mr. Darcy really was; how much Anna Karenina gained by falling in love; how wealthy ancient Romans compare to today’s super-rich; where in Kenyan income distribution was Obama’s grandfather; how we should think about Marxism in a modern world; and how location where one is born determines his wealth. He goes beyond mere entertainment to explain why inequality matters, how it damages our economics prospects, and how it can threaten the foundations of the social order that we take for granted.  Bold, engaging, and illuminating, The Haves and the Have-Nots teaches us not only how to think about inequality, but why we should. less...
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Amazon Says: Recent battles in Washington over how to fix America’s fiscal failures strengthened the widespread impression that economic issues sharply divide average citizens. Indeed, m more...
Amazon Says: Recent battles in Washington over how to fix America’s fiscal failures strengthened the widespread impression that economic issues sharply divide average citizens. Indeed, many commentators split Americans into two opposing groups: uncompromising supporters of unfettered free markets and advocates for government solutions to economic problems. But such dichotomies, Benjamin Page and Lawrence Jacobs contend, ring false. In Class War? they present compelling evidence that most Americans favor free enterprise and practical government programs to distribute wealth more equitably.At every income level and in both major political parties, majorities embrace conservative egalitarianism—a philosophy that prizes individualism and self-reliance as well as public intervention to help Americans pursue these ideals on a level playing field. Drawing on hundreds of opinion studies spanning more than seventy years, including a new comprehensive survey, Page and Jacobs reveal that this worldview translates to broad support for policies aimed at narrowing the gap between rich and poor and creating genuine opportunity for all. They find, for example, that across economic, geographical, and ideological lines, most Americans support higher minimum wages, improved public education, wider access to universal health insurance coverage, and the use of tax dollars to fund these programs.In this surprising and heartening assessment, Page and Jacobs provide our new administration with a popular mandate to combat the economic inequity that plagues our nation. less...
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Amazon Says: Although middle-income families don't earn much more than they did several decades ago, they are buying bigger cars, houses, and appliances. To pay for them, they spend more t more...
Amazon Says: Although middle-income families don't earn much more than they did several decades ago, they are buying bigger cars, houses, and appliances. To pay for them, they spend more than they earn and carry record levels of debt. In a book that explores the very meaning of happiness and prosperity in America today, Robert Frank explains how increased concentrations of income and wealth at the top of the economic pyramid have set off "expenditure cascades" that raise the cost of achieving many basic goals for the middle class. Writing in lively prose for a general audience, Frank employs up-to-date economic data and examples drawn from everyday life to shed light on reigning models of consumer behavior. He also suggests reforms that could mitigate the costs of inequality. Falling Behind compels us to rethink how and why we live our economic lives the way we do. Copub: Russell Sage Foundation less...
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