Freddy Gray Freddy Gray

Ten handy phrases for bluffing on Thomas Piketty’s ‘Capital in the Twenty-First Century’

71EzL0pAsPL._SL1500_How do you sound clever and au courant in 2014? Easy. You talk knowingly about Capital in the 21st Century, the seminal, magisterial, definitive, landmark, pick-your-coverblurb-adjective book by French academic Thomas Piketty.

It’s all about the growing gap between rich and poor, you see, and inequality is all the rage. No wonder: it’s fun to get all hot under the collar about the ‘mega-rich’ — especially if you’re secretly cushioned by the knowledge that you’ve got a bit tucked away yourself. Piketty (who must himself be making a mint) even topped the bestseller list last week, not bad for a such a big book on such a heavy subject.

But really, who is going to trudge through 700-pages on economic theory? Even the media primers — the ‘everything you need to know about Piketty’ blogposts and review round-ups — can be quite exhausting to read. Here instead is a primer’s primer, ten things to say about Capital in the Twenty-First Century for the average web-surfing neanderthal who has no intention of ever picking up the book.

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  1. ‘There’s nothing terribly new about Piketty’s thesis, per se. It’s his data that is groundbreaking.’ Data is the bluffer’s best friend — the trick is to realise that you don’t actually need to know or understand anything. Just talk with confidence about Piketty’s ‘data-sets’ and ‘metrics’ being quite unlike any that have come before.

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