Income inequality moved with astonishing speed from the boring backwaters of economic studies to “the defining challenge of our time,” says the New York Times. And it found Thomas Piketty waiting for it.
Piketty is a professor at the Paris School of Economics who has devoted his career to understanding the dynamics driving the the concentration of income and wealth into the hands of a few. In his new book Capital in the Twenty-first Century, he offers a theory of capitalism that explains its lopsided distribution of rewards.
The NYT's Eduardo Porter talked to Piketty about the wealth divide, the risks associated with income inequality and whether our political systems will be able to address the trend. Read more…
Commentary like Piketty's also raises questions about the relationship between the art world and big money. For instance, Yale economist William Goetzmann argues that prices for art rise not in line with a nation's gross product, rather in parallel with rising income inequality – ie that art performs best, financially, when most people are doing badly. And philanthropic money, whether from corporations or the super-rich, is more likely to be scrutinised these days (for example, artists protesting Transfield's link with the current Biennale of Sydney) presenting socially-engaged artists with the challenge of finding ways to operate inside an art world fueled by the privileged 1 percent.
Image: Thomas Piketty, author of Capital in the Twenty-first Century