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June 2, 2014

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Latest Posts from Economist's View


Have Blog, Will Travel

Posted: 02 Jun 2014 12:33 AM PDT

I am here today:

Tiger Forum, Toulouse, France, June 2-6: Exclusive info: live streaming will be available for all policy events, including:

Joseph Stiglitz lecture: 16:30 to 17:30 Monday, June 2: "Creating a Learning Society: A New Approach to Growth, Development, and Social Progress

TIGER Insights: One-hour intensive sessions on specific themes, in a small format. Seats are limited to 50 to encourage debate and interactions, but the sessions can be followed online (live-streaming). Registration on-site from 9am on the morning of each session.  ROARING Debates: Key policy-related debates in a round-table format aimed at a wide audience and open to all TIGER Forum participants. Held in the main lecture hall, registration online.    ** Watch Live Streams Here ** [Note: we are 9 hours ahead of west coast time.]

Paul Krugman: On Inequality Denial

Posted: 02 Jun 2014 12:24 AM PDT

Inequality denial persists despite clear evidence to the contrary:

On Inequality Denial, by Paul Krugman, Commentary, NY Times: A while back I published an article titled "The Rich, the Right, and the Facts," in which I described politically motivated efforts to deny the obvious — the sharp rise in U.S. inequality, especially at the very top of the income scale. ...
Nor will it surprise you to learn that nothing much has changed. ... What may surprise you is the year in which I published that article: 1992.
Which brings me to the latest intellectual scuffle, set off by an article by Chris Giles ... attacking the credibility of Thomas Piketty's best-selling "Capital in the Twenty-First Century." Mr. Giles claimed that Mr. Piketty's work made "a series of errors that skew his findings," and that there is in fact no clear evidence of rising concentration of wealth. And like just about everyone who has followed such controversies over the years, I thought, "Here we go again."
Sure enough, the subsequent discussion has not gone well for Mr. Giles. ... In short, this latest attempt to debunk the notion that we've become a vastly more unequal society has itself been debunked. And you should have expected that. There are ... many independent indicators pointing to sharply rising inequality ...
Yet inequality denial persists, for pretty much the same reasons that climate change denial persists: there are powerful groups with a strong interest in rejecting the facts, or at least creating a fog of doubt. Indeed, you can be sure that the claim "The Piketty numbers are all wrong" will be endlessly repeated even though that claim quickly collapsed under scrutiny. ...
So here's what you need to know: Yes, the concentration of both income and wealth ... has increased greatly over the past few decades. No, the people receiving that income and owning that wealth aren't an ever-shifting group..., both rags to riches and riches to rags stories are rare... No, taxes and benefits don't greatly change the picture — in fact, since the 1970s big tax cuts at the top have caused after-tax inequality to rise faster than inequality before taxes.
This picture makes some people uncomfortable, because it plays into populist demands for higher taxes on the rich. But good ideas don't need to be sold on false pretenses. If the argument against populism rests on bogus claims about inequality, you should consider the possibility that the populists are right.

Links for 6-02-14

Posted: 02 Jun 2014 12:06 AM PDT

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