Phillip W. Magness

U.S. Economic & Political History

Confessions of a reformed activist

| June 23, 2014

When advising politically-inclined students – and working at a DC based academic research institute and Public Policy department ensures I have many of these – I often counsel them to eschew electoral politics entirely, to  approach policy careers with managed and severely constrained expectations about the results they can expect to achieve, and to generally shed […]

A Soviet Devil in the Capitalist Details

| June 10, 2014

The other day I began scrutinizing Thomas Piketty’s data on capital to national income ratios and particularly the twice-published Figure 5.8/12.4. This graph provides an important piece of evidence for Piketty’s theoretical argument in Capital in the 21st Century, and particularly his contention that “a country that saves a lot and grows slowly will over the long run accumulate an enormous stock […]

Data Problems with Piketty’s Capital/Income Ratios

| June 8, 2014

The post that follows is a bit more technical than my other posts on the data problems with Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century. It also involves a more complex piece of his data, though one with significant implications to his general theory about a hypothesized inherent tendency of capital returns to outpace other earnings. With that in […]

5 remaining problems for Thomas Piketty in the wake of the FT controversy

| June 6, 2014

In the past few days Thomas Piketty and a number of his less scrupulous defenders have taken to declaring the data dispute around Capital in the 21st Century a settled matter since the publication of Piketty’s retort to Chris Giles of the Financial Times. I submit that it is anything but settled, and would draw your attention to five specific […]