The nine stages of the Picketty bubble

The nine stages, by Robert Shrimsley. h/t Michael James.

Everybody has been talking about this important book because they feel they have to

Concern is growing that much of the western world is heading into a “Piketty bubble” – a social and economic phenomenon that arises when everyone who considers themselves to be anybody feels the need to talk about a new book by French economist Thomas Piketty.

Capital in the Twenty-First Century, which argues that modern capitalism is entrenching inequality, was written a year ago in an obscure European dialect. But it is now being hailed as a masterpiece after it was discovered by a US publisher and translated into American.

Unlike the five phases in Hyman Minsky’s classic bubble theory, a Piketty bubble boasts nine stages.

The page is gated, so this is an abbreviated account.

Stage one – buy-in. Anyone who believes they are part of the “big conversation” has to talk about Prof Piketty’s views.

Stage two – escape velocity. A critical mass of enthusiasm sees stock in Piketty rise faster than Bitcoin… Bluffers’ guides spring up on the internet, including information on how to pronounce his name.

Stage three – backlash. It is revealed that he is François Hollande’s favourite economist.

Stage four – counter-offensive. Prof Piketty’s supporters fight back pointing out that most of his critics have not read his book.

Stage five – rearguard. Citics reply that most supporters haven’t read it either

Stage six – boredom.

Stage seven – disassociation. Even supporters begin to be embarrassed to refer to him.

Stage eight – denial. Members of the thinking classes now feel it is chic to admit that they never read the book and Picketty’s is picked up by Russell Brand, a pop star who likes to make fatuous comments on public affairs.

Stage nine – relocation. People move Prof Piketty’s book from the living room to the lavatory, where it sits on a shelf between Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time and Francis Fukuyama’s The End of History.

Prof Piketty, meanwhile, faces complaints that as wealth accrues disproportionately to star writers, his triumph is increasing inequality among economic authors. This view is boosted by the success of his next book, a jaunty work of behavioural economics called “peut-etre”.

There is a possible much later stage 10 – rediscovery. A new crisis promotes a revival in which people return to the book and note that Prof Piketty “had some interesting things to say on this subject”.

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19 Responses to The nine stages of the Picketty bubble

  1. Tel

    Everyone was too bored to notice stage seven?

  2. 1735099

    Sounds like you haven’t read it either, Rafe.
    Try analysis rather than polemic……..

  3. Poor Old Rafe

    Thanks – fixed :)

  4. Supplice

    But it is now being hailed as a masterpiece after it was discovered by a US publisher and translated into American.

    Says it all, really.

  5. egg_

    But it is now being hailed as a masterpiece after it was discovered by a US publisher and translated into American.

    Was there an English version, too?

  6. Ant

    Stage 10: Learn marketing 101. It’s cognitively beneficial to break you message into 10, and avoid random and odd numbers.

  7. entropy

    Unless the number is seven, Ant

  8. Percy

    which argues that modern capitalism is entrenching inequality

    Amazing the resemblance modern capitalism has to historic socialism.

  9. Nanuestalker

    A brief history of [a] time where book purchasers exceed actual readers known in publishing circles as the Hawking efffect.

  10. Nanuestalker

    hmmm …. effect

  11. 1234

    Pleasing to see that you are still talking about it.

  12. egg_

    Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time

    The Matter Myth by Paul Davies — now that’s bedtime reading… zzz…

  13. Mr Rusty

    Pleasing to see that you are still talking about making fun of it.

    FIFY

  14. Token

    But it is now being hailed as a masterpiece after it was discovered by a US publisher and translated into American.

    Was there an English version, too?

    It is a pity that Dr Seus has passed as this fairy tale would require a master of the doctor’s extraordinary talents to rescue it with a pithy label like:

    Green Eggs and Ham (from the government)

  15. Peter57

    [best not to post while angry. Sinc]

  16. Pete X

    A Brief History of Time is actually a fairly short, good read.

    Picketty is terrible. It’s really hard to read. It’s also endless. Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with the arguments the book itself is not fun at all.

    Compared to readable, entertaining books by Stiglitz and Krugman it’s terrible. It’s surprising how few reviewers commented on just how bad it is to read. Perhaps the original French is better. Even the chronically flawed ‘Spirit Level’ was a decent, if repetitive read.

  17. Squirrel

    Missed that one – I thought it sounded like a Tom Lehrer mock-ballad gone wrong, and took no further notice.

  18. thefrollickingmole

    Meanwhile Gerorge Monopod at the Guardian thinks the Greens and Pickettys book are just what the world needs to stick it to those evil rich people on a global scale..

    Without realizing on a global scale he comes perilously close to being a 1%er himself.

    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jul/29/rich-wealth-good-inequality-green-party#start-of-comments

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