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A Critique of Piketty's "Capital in the Twenty-first Century" (English Edition) [Kindle Edition]

Sam Vaknin

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  • Länge: 185 Seiten (geschätzt)
  • Sprache: Englisch
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Sam Vaknin served as economic advisor to several governments and in various management functions in multinationals. He is the former UPI Senior Business Correspondent and the author of several books and numerous articles on topics in economics, business management, and finance.

In his programmatic and data-laden tome, “Capital in the Twenty-first Century” (2014), Thomas Piketty makes several assertions, two of which merit a closer look: (1) That r (the return on capital) is, in the long-run always greater than g (the growth of the real economy), thus enriching the rich; and (2) that inherited wealth tends to create a “patrimonial” form of capitalism, akin to the aristocracy in the French and British ancient regimes.

Putting aside the somewhat artificial and dubious distinction between the “real” and the financial economy, r and g are apples and oranges and cannot be compared. Economic growth (g) is not the return on the real economy in the same way that r is the return on capital and its assets. R is intended to compensate for a panoply of risks and is comparable to the wave function in Quantum Mechanics: it incorporates all the publicly and privately available information about future uncertainties and provides a distribution function of all plausible scenarios. Put simply: subject to political and market vicissitudes, capital can vanish overnight. Not so the real economy: it is always there, regardless of upheavals, political meddling (usually in the form of taxation), inflation (a kind of tax, really), and disruptive technologies.
Capital (wealth) can be construed as a call option on the real economy and, especially, on real estate and emerging technologies. R amounts, therefore, to the premium on this option. Income inequality is growing because of the decline in the role and importance of labor, which is being gradually supplanted by capital assets, such as robots and computers as well as being offshored, outsourced, and downsized. Again, put simply; capital can buy a lot more labor nowadays, hence the apparent lopsidedness of the distribution of wealth.

Luckily for the 99%, the bulk of the nation’s wealth is inactive: dormant in deposits and other long-term assets or languishing in hordes of cash in the form of non-distributed profits. Such capital exercises political clout and muscle but is irrelevant in terms of wage compression.

Inherited wealth is no different to any other form of capital. It is merely an extension of the investment horizon, a kind of immortality. If Warren Buffet lives to be 300 or hands what’s left of his wealth to future generations of Buffets is immaterial in terms of economic impact. There is no evidence that inherited wealth is less productive than riches obtained via entrepreneurship. Such claims have more to do with seething envy than with scholarly erudition. Inherited wealth concentrated in the hands of the few may be compared to an oligopoly, not necessarily a bad thing.
There is no basis to prefer one type of economic activity over another on strictly scientific grounds: investment is as important as entrepreneurship and finance is as crucial as manufacturing. Wealth – inherited or not – is always invested: either in the financial sector or in the real one. To rank economic activities as more or less preferable is ideology, not science: a judgment that is driven by values and predilections, not by hard data.

Similarly, to talk about a monolithic, immutable oligarchy is laughable. As any casual perusal of Forbes’ list of richest people would show, the mobility inside this group is remarkable and its composition is in constant flux. Most of its new members are there by virtue of wages and bonuses.


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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf (beta) 2.0 von 5 Sternen  19 Rezensionen
30 von 36 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
1.0 von 5 Sternen Not recommended. 19. Juni 2014
Von Aaron - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Kindle Edition
While a thoughtful discussion of Piketty's research is a worthwhile endeavor, this book is woefully inadequate.

On the pages within, Vaknin embarrasses himself (and his readers) by constructing a series of straw men, half truths, and outright lies. Clearly written for readers with no desire to read Piketty's book, the target audience would (likely) be satisfied to hear any explanation--whatsoever--and Vaknin, happily, obliges his audience with a series of simplistic bar stool rants that misunderstand and/or ignore economic theory.

I would suggest readers with no interest in data driven economic research stick to Adam Smith or Karl Marx. While both men have been thoroughly discredited, their works (at least) have some historical significance.
20 von 23 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
1.0 von 5 Sternen Ghost-written by Anne Coulter? 9. Juli 2014
Von Judit Nagy - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Kindle Edition
Whatever you may think of Pikkety and his work, this book is not a critique in any real sense. It is an angry, dumb, ideological rant. The writer's economic illiteracy is absolute - an economics 101 student would be able to demolish his arguments. I was looking for an intelligent dissection of Capital in the 21st Century - this book is a joke.
42 von 52 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
1.0 von 5 Sternen Don't Waste Your Time 4. Juni 2014
Von kimberly johnson - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Kindle Edition
Author not educated on topic. Conclusions are leaps of faith and logic, Pikettty's addressed this and more post-publication. Unqualified. Sour grapes.
31 von 38 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
1.0 von 5 Sternen Wages and bonuses? Really? 9. Juni 2014
Von T. Bayview - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Kindle Edition
"Most of its new members are there by virtue of wages and bonuses."

Is this some sort of joke? Anyone who would even think about making that statement is so ignorant as to be laughable. Hey dimwit -- nobody gets on the billionaire's list via "wages and bonuses". What a dolt.
20 von 26 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
1.0 von 5 Sternen Thomas Piketty has written the economic equivalent of "Uncle Tom's Cabin" while Sam Vaknin would argue for the "kind master" 25. Juni 2014
Von David L. Parnell - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Kindle Edition|Verifizierter Kauf
Interestingly "Sam" Vaknin has specialized on destructive egotistical facets of human behavior which I would premise as the basis of most forms of elitism described by C.Wright Mills during the 1950's. Mr. Vaknin is like a host of Piketty critics who feverishly try to delegitimize the fundamental arguments Piketty raises in hopes of shunting this economic work from escalating into an academic movement of this century....a school of thought entering into the politics of this nation. These critiques of Piketty's work are usually the work of perception managers of the Wall Street and Washington, DC consultancies .... like the Wall Street analysts who issue white papers to seed the legitimization of Plutocracy into minds of the gullible affluent investors who listen to the siren songs of investment houses. Meanwhile the fundamental truth of income disparity is dividing this nation towards a failure greater than that related to the Missouri Compromise and Dred Scott. Vaknin's e-book seeks to confuse the reader with grand digressions and suggestions of quantum corollaries while the indisputable truth stands before every citizen of the US and the world. Indeed, "Sam" Vaknin, and other Piketty critics seem to suffer from "narcissistic personality disorder" which heretofore was the focus of "Sam" Vaknin's published works.....their egos drive their reasoning....not the truth...!!!
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