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Thomas Piketty’s “Capital in the Twenty-first Century” explained

Originally posted on ideas.ted.com:

A Piketty guide for lifelong learners.

When Thomas Piketty’s “Capital in the Twenty-first Century” was published earlier this year, it was something of a sensation. That’s no small feat for a chart-heavy doorstop on “the dismal science” of economics.

A fair portion of the book’s notoriety was due to its subject matter: wealth distribution, an intensely political topic if ever there was one. (Watch Piketty’s TED Talk: New thoughts on capital in the twenty-first century.)

What makes this French economist’s conclusions worth global notice? The short answer is that Piketty and his research team amassed a mountain of data, much of it going back centuries, suggesting that the concentration of wealth in ever-fewer hands is not an anomaly or a recent development. Check out the infographic below for a longer explanation:

piketty-infographic-compressed

As the data visualization above suggests, this is simply how capitalism works. Without a significant force to counterbalance rising…

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