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Bonus Quotation of the Day…

… is from page 10 of the written version of this talk that Deirdre McCloskey delivered earlier this week in Italy; the talk is titled “The Two Movements in Economic Thought, 1700-2000: Empty Economic Boxes Revisited” (original emphases):

Thomas Piketty’s book Capital in the Twenty-First Century worrying that the rich might some day get richer expresses only the latest of the leftish worries about “capitalism.” One can line up the later items in the list, and some of the earlier ones revived à la Piketty or Krugman, with particular Nobel Memorial Prizes in Economic Science. I will not name the men (all men, in sharp contrast to the method of Elinor Ostrom, Nobel 2009), but can reveal here the formula. First, discover or rediscover a necessary or sufficient condition for perfect competition or a perfect world (in Piketty’s case, for example, a more perfect equality of income). Then assert without evidence (here Piketty does better than the usual practice) and with suitable mathematical ornamentation (thus Jean Tirole, Nobel 2014) that the condition might be imperfectly realized or the world might not develop in a perfect way. Then conclude with a flourish (here however Piketty joins the usual low scientific standard) that “capitalism” is doomed unless experts intervene with a sweet use of the monopoly of violence in government to implement anti-trust against malefactors of great wealth, or subsidies to diminishing-returns industries, or foreign aid to perfectly honest governments, or money for obviously infant industries, or the nudging of sadly childlike consumers or, Piketty says, a tax miraculously arranged on inequality-causing capital worldwide.