The Piketty Phenomenon

The Piketty Phenomenon

New Zealand Perspectives

Piketty’s book is a bombshell, promising a Kuhnian scientific revolution. Geoff Bertram

Piketty erects a floodlight that illuminates the shadows ignored by economists for too long. Hautahi Kingi

Few books have had the global impact of Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century. An overnight bestseller, Piketty’s assessment that inherited wealth will always grow faster, on average, than earned wealth has energised debate. Hailed as ‘bigger than Marx’ (The Economist) or dismissed as ‘medieval’ (Wall Street Journal), the book is widely acknowledged as having significant economic and political implications.

Collected in this BWB Text are responses to this phenomenon from a diverse range of New Zealand economists and commentators. These voices speak independently to the relevance of Piketty’s conclusions. Is New Zealand faced with a one-way future of rising inequality? Does redistribution need to focus more on wealth, rather than just income? Was the post-war Great Convergence merely an aberration and is our society doomed to regress into a new Gilded Age?


Geoff Bertram – Research Associate, Institute for Governance and Policy Studies, Victoria University of Wellington

Simon Chapple – Senior Research Fellow in the Dunedin Multi-disciplinary Health and Development Research Unit, University of Otago

Donal Curtin – Economics consultant and blogger

Brian Easton – Independent scholar

Max Harris – Rhodes scholar, University of Oxford

Tim Hazledine – Professor of Economics, Faculty of Business and Economics, University of Auckland

Bernard Hickey – Financial journalist and editor

Prue Hyman – former Associate Professor of Economics and Gender and Women's Studies at Victoria University of Wellington

Hautahi Kingi – Ph.D. student, Department of Economics, Cornell University

Gareth Morgan – Businessman, economist and philanthropist

Matt Nolan – Senior Economist at Infometrics Ltd

Max Rashbrooke – Freelance journalist and writer

Susan St John – Associate Professor, Faculty of Business and Economics, University of Auckland and economics spokesperson for the Child Poverty Action Group

Robert Wade – Professor of Political Economy at the London School of Economics

Cathy Wylie – Chief Researcher at the New Zealand Council for Educational Research

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BWB Texts are short books on big subjects by great New Zealand writers. Spanning contemporary issues, history and memoir, new BWB Texts are released regularly, and the series now amounts to well over fifty works.

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Print publication:
Ebook publication: Oct 2014
Pages: 192
RRP: $14.99
ISBN: 9781927277713
ISTC: A022014000005C11
DOI: 10.7810/9781927277713

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Selected by Tilly Lloyd at Unity Books as an ideal summer read!

New Zealand Management's Book of the Month! 'There's no excuse now for leaders and managers not to come up to speed with perhaps one of the world's most confounding current issues', Reg Birchfield.

Read 'Does Piketty Matter?', a feature by Brian Easton, pundit

Read Donal Curtin's chapter from the book on NBR

‘A valuable contribution to the domestic debate is a book, The Piketty Phenomenon, published yesterday, whose 15 contributors, mainly economists, reflect on whether his findings hold good for New Zealand, and if so whether it is a problem and, if it is, what can be done about it.’ Brian Fallow, New Zealand Herald

Listen to Kathryn Ryan's discussion on The Piketty Phenomenon with Geoff Bertram, Donal Curtin and Susan Guthrie on Radio NZ National's Nine to Noon

Read 'Piketty downunder' by Nikki Mandow, Idealog

'Commissioner keen on wealth tax', Paloma Migone, Radio NZ National

'New take on inequality sparks debate in NZ', Brian Fallow, New Zealand Herald


‘In this small but weighty tome, 15 New Zealand economists and commentators respond to what has become known as the “Piketty Phenomenon” … This is a book that stands proudly in its own limelight – enjoy,’ Idealog