Getting inequality wrong

New York, Sept. 23, 2015: activists during the fourth anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement demonstrate against what they perceive as a flawed financial system (source: dpa)
New York, Sept. 23, 2015: activists during the fourth anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement demonstrate against what they perceive as a flawed financial system (source: dpa)

Thomas Piketty captured something essential in the post-Lehman mood with his study of income and wealth differentials in the developed world. More’s the pity that his policy recommendations are misguided, in part because he missed the worst kind of inequality.

During periods of economic crisis and slow growth, concerns about inequality loom larger than in times of prosperity. This was true after the 2008 financial collapse, when movements like Occupy Wall Street mobilized to fight the so-called 1 percent that was supposedly robbing the other 99 percent of society.

The post-crisis preoccupation with inequality found its most vivid analytic...

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