A 700-page book on economics is not exactly a light read for someone with a background in environmental sciences, but after all this success, discussions and reviews, I felt I had to read Capital in the Twenty-First Century. I borrowed it from the library and I am glad I did. There have been plenty of reviews, critiques and a variety of arguments for and against, but, to me, the real importance of the book lies in just a few pages where the author discusses the forces of convergence that have led to decreasing inequality.

Thomas Piketty’s central argument is that when the returns on capital (r) outpace economic growth (g), {r>g} over time, wealth inequality increases and therefore, those who control wealth will always get richer and those who depend on the growth of the economy, the labour, will always be poorer compared to the rich. Piketty’s suggestion that a global tax of up to 2% a year should be introduced on individual wealth to prevent capital concentrating in the hands of the few has been controversial but there has been no real attack. One of the problems with the global tax is that it requires a high level of international cooperation.  Some, Bill Gates included, have suggested a progressive tax on consumption instead.

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