My cheatsheet on reviews of "Capital in the Twenty-First Century"

As you probably know, Thomas Piketty’s “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” has taken the intelligentsia by storm. The massive study of wealth and inequality is already a sold-out Amazon best seller with used copies selling for over 2X the original price (though I suspect it will be one of those books that only gets read by a fraction of those who have it on their bookshelves and nightstands – which is a shame). It is already the subject of demagoguery, a sign of its true importance.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I have not yet read the book — although I did attend one of Piketty’s many recent presentations (and listened via the web to others) and read a number of reviews. I won’t try to fully summarize the book, other than to say its major argument is that wealth inequality is baked into capitalism, but not because inequality is required for economic growth. Here are three reviews I think are especially useful.
Justin Fox’s “Piketty’s ‘Capital,’ in a Lot Less Than 696 Pages” in the HBR Blog. A good summary of the book.
Robert Solow’s review in the New Republic “Thomas Piketty Is Right” Everything you need to know about ‘Capital in the Twenty-First Century’.” A comprehensive review by the Noble-Laureate.
Tyler Cowen’s review in Foreign Affairs “Capital Punishment: Why a Global Tax on Wealth Won’t End Inequality.” Don’t let the title mislead you – this contains more than an argument against the wealth tax. Cowen carefully points out some of the possible flaws in the argument.
Note that all three reviews agree that this is an important contribution to economic thought. And as Cowen’s article points out, one that will be debated on theoretical and empirical grounds for many years.

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