Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century has been the most talked-about book in economics in a decade, but according to the FT there bay be some issues with the data:
As the FT’s Chris Giles notes:
…the rock-star French economist appears to have got his sums wrong.
The data underpinning Professor Piketty’s 577-page tome, which has dominated best-seller lists in recent weeks, contain a series of errors that skew his findings. The FT found mistakes and unexplained entries in his spreadsheets, similar to those which last year undermined the work on public debt and growth of Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff.
The central theme of Prof Piketty’s work is that wealth inequalities are heading back up to levels last seen before the first world war. The investigation undercuts this claim, indicating there is little evidence in Prof Piketty’s original sources to bear out the thesis that an increasing share of total wealth is held by the richest few.
Prof. Piketty’s response to the FT is to double-down on this conclusion: “the rise in top wealth shares in the US in recent decades has been even larger than what I show in my book”.
Stay tuned for more, since now the hunt will be on to validate/disprove the FT’s conclusion.