When the rate of return on capital exceeds the rate of growth of output and income, as it did in the nineteenth century and seems quite likely to do again in the twenty-first, capitalism automatically generates arbitrary and unsustainable inequalities that radically undermine the meritocratic values on which democratic societies are based.

— Thomas Piketty

The most special Thomas Piketty quotes that are little-known but priceless

When inequality gets to an extreme, it is completely useless for growth.

25

Our modern democratic ideal is based on the hope that inequalities will be based on merit more than inheritance or luck.

23

The discipline of economics has yet to get over its childish passion for mathematics and for purely theoretical and often highly ideological speculation, at the expense of historical research and collaboration with the other social sciences.

23

No hypocrisy is too great when economic and financial elites are obliged to defend their interest.

21

Over a long period of time, the main force in favor of greater equality has been the diffusion of knowledge and skills.

20

Indeed, the distribution of wealth is too important an issue to be left to economists, sociologists, historians, and philosophers.

20

At the heart of every major political upheaval lies a fiscal revolution.

15

What was the good of industrial development, what was the good of all the technological innovations, toil, and population movements if, after half a century of industrial growth, the condition of the masses was still just as miserable as before, and all lawmakers could do was prohibit factory labor by children under the age of eight?

12

I certainly agree that capital is not a one-dimensional object, and that the return on capital takes very different forms for different assets or different people.

11

I loved American universities. In many ways, they are better organized - certainly than French universities.

9

The democratic ideal has always been related to a moderate level of inequality.

I think one big reason why electoral democracy flourished in 19th century America better than 19th century Europe is because you had more equal distribution of wealth in America.

6

The principal mechanism for convergence at the international as well as the domestic level is the diffusion of knowledge.

5

About Thomas Piketty

Quotes 29 sayings
Profession Economist
Birthday May 7, 1971

For far too long economists have sought to define themselves in terms of their supposedly scientific methods. In fact, those methods rely on an immoderate use of mathematical models, which are frequently no more than an excuse for occupying the terrain and masking the vacuity of the content.

3

The U.S. is the country that invented progressive taxation of income and of inherited wealth in the 1910s and 20s.

3

Refusing to deal with numbers rarely serves the interests of the least well-off.

0

There is one great advantage to being an academic economist in France: here, economists are not highly respected in the academic and intellectual world or by political and financial elites. Hence they must set aside their contempt for other disciplines and their absurd claim to greater scientific legitimacy, despite the fact that they know almost nothing about anything.

0

Contrary to a tenacious myth, France is not owned by California pension funds or the Bank of China, any more than the United States belongs to Japanese and German investors. The fear of getting into such a predicament is so strong today that fantasy often outstrips reality. The reality is that inequality with respect to capital is a far greater domestic issue than it is an international one.

0

Without precisely defined sources, methods, and concepts, it is possible to see absolutely everything and its opposite.

0

I am not political. It is not my job. But I would be happy if politicians could read my work and draw some conclusions from it.

0

I don't think there is any serious evidence that we need to be paying people more than 100 times the average wage in order to get high-performing managers.

0

It's not Utopian to believe that we can create a global registry of financial assets so we know who owns what in different countries.

0

Das Kapital, I think, is very difficult to read, and for me, it was not very influential.

0

We know too little about global wealth dynamics, so we need international transmission of bank information.

0

Democracy will never be supplanted by a republic of experts—and that is a very good thing.

0

Wealth is so concentrated that a large segment of society is virtually unaware of its existence.

0

We want capitalism and market forces to be the slave of democracy rather than the opposite.

0

Economists have put themselves in a position where what they are doing is supposed to be impossible to understand for outsiders, so they dont even talk - sometimes not even with their girlfriend or boyfriend or friends - about what they are doing.

0

It's important to realize that innovation and growth in itself are not sufficient to moderate inequality of wealth.

0
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