Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century: Criticisms and debates Kang-Kook LEE

The author in this article critically examines the most important criticisms of Piketty and debates about his study in mainstream economics and underscores that Piketty’s argument has limitations and we need to develop a study of inequality that takes the perspectives of political economy into account more seriously. Piketty_Capital (Download the full text in PDF format) (This article was originally published in The Journal of Comparative Economic Studies, Vol.11, 2016, pp.151–170)

Globalization and the Impasse of Capitalism Prabhat Patnaik

I feel greatly honoured that I have been asked to deliver the Harold Wolpe memorial lecture for the year 2016. Harold Wolpe was an outstanding thinker who combined political activism for the liberation of the South African people with deep insights into the economic basis of apartheid. I am indeed grateful for this opportunity to pay my tribute to this remarkable person who in my view constitutes a role model for anyone aspiring to be a social scientist. Since a good deal of Harold Wolpe’s theoretical work was concerned with the value of labour power, and hence by implication with…

Developing “Infrastructure” Prabhat Patnaik

The term “infrastructure” covers all sorts of things, from ports to roads to canals to bridges to building railway lines. Because it covers such a range of things, many of which appear to be useful, most people look upon “infrastructure” development as an indubitably desirable thing under all circumstances. Questions are scarcely asked about its worthwhileness when the government allocates larger resources for the “infrastructure” sector, or when it instructs public sector banks to give larger loans for “infrastructure” development. This way of looking at “infrastructure” however is grossly misleading. What is covered by the term “infrastructure” typically varies with…

From Marx to Morgan Stanley: Inequality and financial crisis Michael Lim Mah-Hui and Khor Hoe Ee

Despite robust growth, rising inequalities and financial instability have affected many countries. This is a result of skewed distribution of economic output between labour and capital favouring the latter. Consumptions of households have been falling with rising savings by the rich. This tension between declining consumption and rising savings is ‘resolved’ by the financial system through the recycling of funds from the rich minority to the average household in the form of credit. At the global level, the tension is ‘resolved’ through recycling ‘excess savings’ from China to the US, adding to the debt and asset bubble in the US.…

America’s Debt-ceiling Crisis Prabhat Patnaik

The United States has an archaic piece of legislation, passed in 1917, which puts a ceiling on the magnitude of the debt of its federal government in absolute dollar terms. (Since the various State governments in the U.S. are not allowed to run fiscal deficits and hence incur debt, the federal debt is synonymous with government debt). Fixing a debt ceiling in absolute dollar terms is extraordinarily silly for two obvious reasons: first, as the federal government incurs fresh fiscal deficits every year which add to its debt, this ceiling fixed in absolute terms is naturally bound to get exceeded.…

Global Inequality: Beyond the bottom billion Isabel Ortiz and Matthew Cummins

This working paper provides an overview of global, regional and national income inequalities based on the latest distribution data; discusses the negative implications of rising income inequality; and describes the likelihood of inequalities being exacerbated during the global economic crisis. It calls for placing equity at the center of development in the context of the UN development agenda and advocates urgent policy changes at national and international levels to ensure a “Recovery for All”. It also provides a summary of the most up-to-date income distribution and inequality data for 141 countries. global_inequality (Download the full text in PDF format)