BOSTON - Thomas Piketty has no plans to respond further to Financial Times editor Chris Giles, despite the paper's insistence that it is engaged with the French economist and author in a "fascinating and important debate."
Quite the opposite, Piketty, the author of Capital in the Twenty-First Century, told The Huffington Post in an interview that aired Monday evening on HuffPost Live.
"This particular debate is over," Piketty said. The British paper had accused Piketty of getting his "sums" wrong, and "cherry-picking" data sources to fit a preconceived notion about wealth inequality. It turned out, however, that the FT failed to properly understand the way that Piketty had arrived at his conclusions. On Thursday, Piketty answered the FT's charges in a point-by-point rebuttal. Observers of the debate were nearly unanimous in declaring it conclusively over, with the FT's various critiques fully satisfied.
But Giles insisted in a follow-up post that questions about Piketty's ethics and reliability remained. "Further debate on many of these items is difficult because Prof Piketty accepts he makes still undocumented adjustments to his data from his original sources, but says they are appropriate because any alternative would not be plausible. The sources he has appear to be secondary to Prof Piketty’s prior expectations of what the data needs to show," Giles wrote.
But more fundamentally, Giles and other critics of the book, Piketty said, are deceiving themselves if they think that discrediting his work will somehow improve the long-run political fortunes of the people who read The Financial Times.
The problem, he said, is not his book -- it's reality. "People should be afraid more of the realities than with my book. My book is not the problem. The problem is rising inequality, the fact that top wealth holders have been rising three times faster than the size of the economy," he said, referencing the upper echelons of the Forbes 500 list, which he noted have seen their wealth rise thrice as fast as the economy has grown. "If the FT has a different ranking, they should publish it, but apparently they don't have it so, you know, they should stop."
Piketty was joined in the interview by Massachusetts Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren, who, HuffPost noted, has herself been the subject of rather pointed attacks from the financial industry. Asked how she would suggest Piketty respond to the critique, she had just two words of advice: "Hit back."
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