Biblio (91) Capital in the XXIst century: Thomas Piketty and the end of the big bubble

Seville in 1590, by Georg Brown. At the Spanish National Library

Seville in 1590, by Georg Brown. At the Spanish National Library

Seville in 1771, by Olavide. At the Spanish National Library

Seville in 1771, by Olavide. At the Spanish National Library

I’m reading this book, that is the subject of so many reviews and will probably be of many more. No download links, but the book is worth the price, even if just to see a structured thought.

I’m currently reading the book, so my final vision could vary. One of the central ideas in the book is that when capital yields are higher than the economy general growth, inequalities usually increase, explaining somehow the current trends in the “western” world. Social mobility would only be possible for the large masses in growing economies, something far from guaranteed.

According to this historical analysis of the dynamics of growth, the time from the XVIIth century to our days is an anomaly, with extremely high growth rates for both the economy and the population, especially after WWII. We could call that (albeit the author does not, so it is a personal opinion as what follows) the large bubble. And he thinks it is dying, due to the inertia of the demography, no longer explosive in most of the world. So some countries would have to cope simultaneously with the end of the “small” bubble (the real estate one during the last decade) and the big one…

From an urban and regional planning perspective this would lead us back to the historical slower growth. Piketty’s book is a “Theory of all”, in which you can inscribe such debates as sustainable development, peak oil, peak car, or the US going back to cities… or even the opposite (the author cares well to remind that the future is never sure). Anyway, it is worth the reading. Or a stroll to the downloads section of the Paris School of Economics.

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