IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/pra/mprapa/64593.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Piketty is wrong

Author

Abstract

Piketty argues that there are long-run fundamental laws in capitalism that will necessarily concentrate the income in favor of the privileged 1 or 10% of the population. Piketty's two fundamental laws are really theoretical propositions that presume relative rigidity in the rate of return of capital and in the net savings rate. We show that such propositions are incompatible with seventy-five years of studies estimating the value of the elasticity of substitution between capital and labor, and with the theoretical models of savings optimizing behavior. We argue that Piketty's laws are wrong and that they contradict the essence of market dynamics. Economic agents optimize and neither the rate of return of capital nor the net savings rate can remain relatively stable as Piketty supposes. Using empirical estimates of the long-run elasticity of substitution between capital and labor, and analyzing the relationship between the net savings rate and the real growth rate of the economy, we show that Piketty's forecast for the second half of the twenty-first century is inadequate. We propose alternative forecasts.

Suggested Citation

  • Obregon, Carlos, 2015. "Piketty is wrong," MPRA Paper 64593, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:64593
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/64593/1/MPRA_paper_64593.pdf
    File Function: original version
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Brent Neiman, 2014. "The Global Decline of the Labor Share," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 129(1), pages 61-103.
    2. Thomas Piketty & Gabriel Zucman, 2014. "Capital is Back: Wealth-Income Ratios in Rich Countries 1700–2010," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 129(3), pages 1255-1310.
    3. Ezra Oberfield & Devesh Raval, 2021. "Micro Data and Macro Technology," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 89(2), pages 703-732, March.
    4. Daron Acemoglu & James A. Robinson, 2015. "The Rise and Decline of General Laws of Capitalism," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 29(1), pages 3-28, Winter.
    5. Mallick, Debdulal, 2012. "The role of the elasticity of substitution in economic growth: A cross-country investigation," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(5), pages 682-694.
    6. Robert S. Chirinko & Debdulal Mallick, 2014. "The Substitution Elasticity, Factor Shares, Long-Run Growth, and the Low-Frequency Panel Model," CESifo Working Paper Series 4895, CESifo.
    7. Mallick, Debdulal, 2007. "The role of elasticity of substitution in economic growth: a cross-country test of the de La Grandville Hypothesis," Working Papers eco_2007_04, Deakin University, Department of Economics.
    8. Charles I. Jones, 2005. "The Shape of Production Functions and the Direction of Technical Change," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 120(2), pages 517-549.
    9. Odran Bonnet & Pierre-Henri Bono & Guillaume Chapelle & Etienne Wasmer, 2014. "Does housing capital contribute to inequality? A comment on Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century," Sciences Po Economics Discussion Papers 2014-07, Sciences Po Departement of Economics.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Robert Z. Lawrence, 2015. "Recent Declines in Labor's Share in US Income: A Preliminary Neoclassical Account," Working Paper Series WP15-10, Peterson Institute for International Economics.
    2. Michael Knoblach & Fabian Stöckl, 2020. "What Determines The Elasticity Of Substitution Between Capital And Labor? A Literature Review," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 34(4), pages 847-875, September.
    3. Clemens Struck & Adnan Velic, 2017. "Automation, New Technology, and Non-Homothetic Preferences," Trinity Economics Papers tep1217, Trinity College Dublin, Department of Economics.
    4. Dongya Koh & Raül Santaeulàlia‐Llopis & Yu Zheng, 2020. "Labor Share Decline and Intellectual Property Products Capital," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 88(6), pages 2609-2628, November.
    5. Song, Eunbi, 2021. "What drives labor share change? Evidence from Korean industries," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 94(C), pages 370-385.
    6. Mangin, Sephorah & Sedláček, Petr, 2018. "Unemployment and the labor share," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(C), pages 41-59.
    7. Clemens C. Struck, 2017. "On the Interaction of Growth, Trade and International Macroeconomics," Working Papers 201724, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
    8. Growiec, Jakub & McAdam, Peter & Mućk, Jakub, 2018. "Endogenous labor share cycles: Theory and evidence," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 87(C), pages 74-93.
    9. Robert S. Chirinko & Debdulal Mallick, 2017. "The Substitution Elasticity, Factor Shares, and the Low-Frequency Panel Model," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 9(4), pages 225-253, October.
    10. Mello, Marcelo de Albuquerque e, 2017. "Another Look at Panel Estimates of the Elasticity of Substitution between Capital and Labor," Brazilian Review of Econometrics, Sociedade Brasileira de Econometria - SBE, vol. 37(2), November.
    11. Paul, Saumik, 2019. "A Decline in Labor's Share with Capital Accumulation and Complementary Factor Inputs: An Application of the Morishima Elasticity of Substitution," IZA Discussion Papers 12219, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    12. Akaev, Askar & Devezas, Tessaleno & Ichkitidze, Yuri & Sarygulov, Askar, 2021. "Forecasting the labor intensity and labor income share for G7 countries in the digital age," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 167(C).
    13. Daron Acemoglu & James A. Robinson, 2015. "The Rise and Decline of General Laws of Capitalism," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 29(1), pages 3-28, Winter.
    14. Mangin, Sephorah, 2017. "A theory of production, matching, and distribution," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 172(C), pages 376-409.
    15. German Gutierrez, 2018. "Investigating Global Labor and Pro t Shares," 2018 Meeting Papers 165, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    16. Gregory Casey & Ryo Horii, 2019. "A Multi-factor Uzawa Growth Theorem and Endogenous Capital-Augmenting Technological Change," ISER Discussion Paper 1051, Institute of Social and Economic Research, Osaka University.
    17. Constantin Chilarescu, 2021. "A production function with variable elasticity of substitution greater than one," Papers 2103.08679, arXiv.org.
    18. Loukas Karabarbounis & Brent Neiman, 2014. "Capital Depreciation and Labor Shares Around the World: Measurement and Implications," NBER Working Papers 20606, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    19. Kemnitz, Alexander & Knoblach, Michael, 2020. "Endogenous sigma-augmenting technological change: An R&D-based approach," CEPIE Working Papers 02/20, Technische Universität Dresden, Center of Public and International Economics (CEPIE).
    20. Gene M. Grossman & Elhanan Helpman & Ezra Oberfield & Thomas Sampson, 2017. "Balanced Growth Despite Uzawa," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 107(4), pages 1293-1312, April.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Piketty; Capitalism; Rate of return of capital; Savings rate; Economy growth; Elasticity between capital an labor;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D30 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - General
    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • D33 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Factor Income Distribution
    • E20 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - General (includes Measurement and Data)
    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth
    • E25 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Aggregate Factor Income Distribution
    • F01 - International Economics - - General - - - Global Outlook
    • O47 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Empirical Studies of Economic Growth; Aggregate Productivity; Cross-Country Output Convergence
    • O57 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Comparative Studies of Countries

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:64593. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/vfmunde.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Joachim Winter (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/vfmunde.html .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.