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Piketty et l'air du temps

PRINCETON – Où que j'aille ces jours-ci, tout le monde me pose à chaque fois cette même question : que pensez-vous de Thomas Piketty ? Voilà vraiment deux questions en une : que pensez-vous du livre de Piketty ? Que pensez-vous du phénomène Piketty ?

La première question est de loin la plus facile. Par pur hasard, j'ai été parmi les premiers lecteurs de la version anglaise de Le Capital au XXIème siècle. L'éditeur de Piketty, Harvard University Press, m'avait envoyé les épreuves préparatoires pour que je rédige un texte de présentation en quatrième de couverture. Ce que j'ai fait avec joie, car l'étendue, la profondeur et l'ambition du livre m'ont impressionné.

Je connaissais bien sûr les études empiriques de Piketty sur la répartition des revenus, réalisées notamment en collaboration avec Emmanuel Saez et Anthony Atkinson. Cette recherche avait déjà produit d'étonnantes découvertes sur la hausse des revenus des très riches. Elle avait démontré que l'inégalité dans de nombreuses économies avancées avait atteint des niveaux inédits depuis le début du XXème siècle. C'était en soi un tour de force.

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