23 May 2014

The Rock Star Economist

It was around 7.50 on Thursday morning when it became clear that Thomas Piketty had gone viral. Forget topping the bestseller lists. Forget the praise heaped on him by Paul Krugman. Never mind the hundreds of thousands of times his name is Googled. When Piketty was namechecked on Thought for the Day, he stopped being a modest 42-year-old French economist and went mainstream.

In case you haven't noticed, Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century is a publishing sensation. It has already sold 200,000 copies, making it the 50 Shades of Grey of economics books. It is being reviewed on the internet by supporters and critics who self-evidently have not read all of its 577 pages. And it has jolted the right, who are scrabbling around for an answer to its main message: rising inequality is killing capitalism.