100% Are Sure He's Right (Or Wrong) But Have Read Only 2.4% Of Piketty's Book

Tyler Durden's picture

100% of people have a view on Thomas Piketty's "Capital In The 21st Century" - for better or worse - confidently spewing supportive anecdotes of what they think he said and what they believe he means... But, as WSJ reports, people who spent hard-earned (or government-subsidized) money to buy his socialist tome have only read 2.4%. It appears few - if any - made it past page 26... Perhaps they would all be better off reading this.


As WSJ reports - based on the so-called Hawking Index (which correlates to pages read) mockingly named after Stephen Hawking's Brief History of Time which held the record for most-bought-least-read book for a long time...

"Capital in the Twenty-First Century" by Thomas Piketty : 2.4% read


Yes, it came out just three months ago. But the contest isn't even close. Mr. Piketty's book is almost 700 pages long, and the last of the top five popular highlights appears on page 26.


Stephen Hawking is off the hook; from now on, this measure should be known as the Piketty Index.

(Methodology: Take the page numbers of a book's five top highlights, average them, and divide by the number of pages in the whole book. The higher the number, the more of the book we're guessing most people are likely to have read.)

*  *  *

Of course - there are plenty of taking heads willing to explain it to you but we offered an alternative economics textbook here that we suspect offers more accurate and useful insight...

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hedgeless_horseman's picture



What do you call an economist that makes predictions?  Wrong.

h/t Taleb

JustObserving's picture

What do you call an official US economist?


AlaricBalth's picture

 Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt - Here is a free copy.


Pladizow's picture

Nor would i waste my time analysing my used toilet paper -  I know whats there!

The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable." - John Kenneth Galbraith

“While certain public policies would in the long run benefit everybody, other policies would benefit one group only at the expense of all other groups. The group that would benefit from such policies, having such a direct interest in them, will argue for them plausibly and persistently. It will hire the best buyable minds to devote their whole time to presenting the case. And it will finally either convince the general public that the case is sound, or so befuddle it that clear thinking on the subject becomes next to impossible.” – Henry Hazlitt, Economics In One Lesson - Page one, 1946.

“It is often sadly remarked that the bad economist present their errors to the public better than the good economists present their truths.” - Henry Hazlitt, Economics In One Lesson, 1946.

”Socialism is the philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy. Its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.” – Winston Churchill




Headbanger's picture

Yep.  The sub-title should be "An Introduction to Cacanomics"

Miles Ahead's picture

You really quoted Winston Churchill as proof of some wisdom.  Now that's amazing.  You must read the UK/US history books. That fucking ape.

Pladizow's picture

@ Miles of Head - Sorry to offend you?

Monty Burns's picture

Churchill undermined every attempt to avoid WWII and once started, every attempt to abbreviate it.  Seriously evil.

TheReplacement's picture

You mean he was not in office and he predicted it would happen and once it did happen the British put him in office because he was the only person with enough vision to deal with it?

You are probably one of those people that believes an artificial truce will produce long lasting peace.  Reality shows that the longer tensions simmer unresolved the longer people will make war with each other.  Look at the middle east.  Nobody has ever really won a full victory there and so the wars keep on coming.  Compare that to the American Indians.  They were utterly and completely defeated and look how often they revolt.  Humanitarians think otherwise but the only lasting peace is a Roman peace. 

Churchill understood that Germany had to be put down hard and only then treated gently.  Contrast that with what happened after WWI and you can see he was right.


ConfederateH's picture

Churchill was a rank statist, an elitist and a war monger.  I wouldn't want any of my quotes placed next to his.

Pladizow's picture

You got it - I wont place any of your quotes next to his!

FuzzyDunlop21's picture

Yea he was an asshole. He was right about this though

Miles Ahead's picture

Right? Imagine had them apes not taken so many resources from the rest of the world in their Empire On Which The Sun Never Sets.  Imagine where those inbred lot would be.  Hell, I'd be against Socialism too if I held the whip hand!

Of course he would say all that, from behind the muzzle (or whatever the brits used).  Slaves, massacres, Opium.

I guess he didn't have much confidence in Capitalism. So he opted for Empire to hedge his bets. We could probably find some good ol' Austrian Economics quotes from another Austrian cum German führer if we really looked a bit.

Churchill stinks.

gh0atrider's picture

Having to suffer the same air supply as socialists on occasion, it has been gh0atrider's experience that people pick and choose their economists to fit their world view.

Greenskeeper_Carl's picture

very true. that is also why keynes was and is so popular. He provided govts and central banks with an acedemic cover for what they were already trying to do. He laid the foundation, in a widely circulated book, providing the (false) justification for govt deficit spending, and especially inflation, calling it a way for govts to confiscate several % of the populations money without them ever being aware of it. Piketty's book does the same thing. He provides a populist justification for broke, corrupt govts (and the UN/IMF) are already trying to do, these ideas arent original at all, he is just their new salesman

kchrisc's picture

"He provided govts and central banks with an acedemic cover for what they were already trying to do."

Well said.

hot sauce technician's picture

So good I translated half of it into a foreign language. 

Hazlitt was a master writer.

Bioscale's picture

I tried once to translate von Mises's Nationaloekonomie. I quit after second page, the old Deutsch was fucking hard. The official translation was then made from English.

Ribeye's picture

downloaded it from Mises, started reading, read it from start to finish without stopping, 

hat tip to Dr Paul for pointing me towards it, 

love that book,





kchrisc's picture

Good for you.

Hazlitt is Austrian Economic thought applied to political economy arguments.

Now try a basic into to Austrian Economic thought: https://mises.org/books/econforrealpeople.pdf

Very good book and just about all the non-academic needs to know.

And then there is the most incredible book ever written on the motivations and methods of the ruling class, Bastiat's The Law. 60 pages of wonderment: http://library.mises.org/books/Frederic%20Bastiat/The%20Law.pdf

falak pema's picture

Bastiat bases his tenets on : liberty, property and justice for the individual as opposed to the notion of general good defined by a Lawmaker.

The right to property is the one that is not consistent with history; as since time immemorial property has been based on possession being the law. Its the bone of contention between Man and his neighbour. 

Thus ONE fundamental premise of Bastiat is ill defined : who decides what a man's property is in an agrarian society-- Bastiat's world-- as that ownership has been the gist of all problem since Man sedantarised. 

Civilization has always recognised that Justice can never be applied without the REFEREE between two parties applying PREORDAINED laws made NOT by nature or GOD but by Man for man. Thus the relevance of Lycurgus and Solon.

Sorry, Bastiat was taking short cuts with history in his idealistic construct. 

And, Bastiat based his idea of individual liberty as "organically" defined by God's natural laws ! Now which God would that be ? (Take your pick!)

NidStyles's picture

Let me address your post piece by piece.


Bastiat did not base his tenets on anything more than formal logic. If you had actually read his work you would know this. 

The right to property was always paramount and Common Law defending it goes as far back as the early 1200's in the European traditions and even further back in the Middle-East, Asia and Mediterranean cultures. 

You say it is ill defined but offer no examples to display this, that makes your claim a fallacy. Also, humans do not live in a agrarian societies, and they realistically have not for at least a thousand years by my count. 

Love how you bring up a couple of Greeks as if their names would help your cause. Did you forget that in ancient Greek tribes writs of ownership were commonly used, and that both the Athenian and Spartan Empires were built upon private ownership and property. 


Bastiat was doing what? How? Where? You're telling me a guy who wrote as prolifically as Bastiat need only be summed up by you and your statist brethren with one sentence without evidence to his faults, and that we should all just jump on your train and accept what you say, because why again? Where is the argument here? All I see are Ad-Homs and other fallacies. 

 Natural Law, which to the uneducated is based on a religious context rather than the work of the most famous Greek outside of Hercules, has little to do with a deity.. You know those same people you thought you were so enlightened by bringing them up earlier. 


Your argument is weak and based on fallacies. You have nothing to say that is not based on ulterior motives here. 

falak pema's picture

I was commenting the views of Bastiat as presented in his Opus, attachment to the previous post entitled :  The Law. 

What ulterior motives? 

Lol ! 

DoChenRollingBearing's picture

I will not buy nor read the book.  YAWN.  Marxism is densely written garbage anyway.

Greenskeeper_Carl's picture

nope, me neither. Its only number 1 because its fashionable, the leftist flavor of the month. Unlike some, I don't doubt this many people have bought it, its a must have for any leftists' book shelf. Billary's book, not so much. These guys saying they don't trust the best seller list or think it is legit; if it was possible to fake that, trust me, the Billary book wouldn't have flopped like it did. but, see my post above, piketty is merely providing acedemic cover for what the bankrupt, corrupted people were already trying to do before this book, just like keynes before him.

NotApplicable's picture

I doubt that anybody bought this book. Well, other than the millions of GM buyers who like to pile them up in giant parking lots.

Maybe they stuffed them all in the trunks?

StychoKiller's picture

Strange how redistributionist claptrap NEVER includes book royalties.  The author of this drivel can pound sand!

i_call_you_my_base's picture

I didn't believe its best seller status the moment I heard it. No one wants to read a 700 page economics book, no matter whwat your ideological take is. The only thing I learned from that book is that the best seller list can be faked.

SuperRay's picture

Piketty became a best seller the way Argo became best picture. Through lies and manipulation...

Dr. Engali's picture

hmmmm.... I would have thought the bible was the most bought and least read book ever. Seems everbody can quote it, but they have no idea what's in it.

hedgeless_horseman's picture



I agree.  Matthew 5, 6, and 7 , Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, is a great place to start.  It takes about 10 - 15 minutes to read it.

hot sauce technician's picture

I'm an Old Testament type of fella. Nothing like reading in the original 3000 year old Hebrew the epics of the judges or kings. Or the poetry of the prophets flavored with that Judean/Canaanite slang.

MeBizarro's picture

Que?  Another Bible reader woefully ignorant on the history of the present 'Bible' and its origins.  One of the thing that irks me the most is how many Christians especially Evangelicals in the US know next to nothing about the origins of the 'Bible' and actually think it is the word of Jesus/God. 

hot sauce technician's picture

PLease be more specific. The Hebrew "Bible" is in fact a compilation of 24 different books, most of which were written by separate authors in different periods. The book of Esther is different than Samuel in language (i.e. grammar, syntax, vocabulary), style and content. For example. That's because the former was written in Persia in the 5th century BCE and the latter in northern Judea circa 950 BCE. Capsici?

Colonel Klink's picture

What's the difference between the pages of Piketty's book and toilet paper.  Toilet paper has shit on it after you use it.

saycheeeese's picture

toilet paper cleans better for sure !

saycheeeese's picture

the essence of money is the key and very few understand it, the rest is BS

abolish the FED, abolish Fractional Reserve Banking

hot sauce technician's picture

Amen! That's actually one of the first issues Hazlitt tackles in 'One Lesson '. Money represents value. It's actually a form of production. Supply and demand equal each other. Etc. Etc.

Another thing to abolish is any type of involuntary association.

All Risk No Reward's picture

Did Hazlett address the initializing of new money into society as debt?

I doubt it - and nothing is more important than that one issue.

If he did, how come the people who promote him don't make that their #1 talking point because it is the number one talking point?

I'm going to read it, as well as the other books listed.  Thanks for posting those.   I bet the material is quite good.

But if you don't understand the prima fascie fraud of instantiating money as debt in the first instance, you don't know what you really need to know.

When money is initialized as debt, the entire system is fraudulant andall the other "insight" becomes irrelevant over the long term.

When the foundation is fraud, the structure is fraud.

Debt Money Tyranny

When Money is Debt - Poverty is not a Choice

How to be a Crook

Debunking Money

Renaissance 2.0


hot sauce technician's picture

Of course he did. He decried the inflationary policies of central banksters from day one. His premise was: creating public debt either increases inflation or decreases real wages. Read the book.

All Risk No Reward's picture

I plan on reading the book and I think I will find it enlightening.

But your response is really non-responsive to my question.

The incentive to inflate is created by basing money itself on debt... it isn't the root cause.

You addressed an effect of Debt Based Money, not the root cause.

I still don't think he addressed the mechanism depicted here:

Debt Money Tyranny

If he had, so many people wouldn't be so clueless.

For example, Ron Paul is completely clueless about this issue and I've never heard any major libertarian discuss it.


All Risk No Reward's picture

Hazlett hit a clean miss on the prima fascie fraud of defining money's creation through loans.

He doesn't address it.  Nowhere does he point out that that the very basis of our monetary system is a criminal fraud engineered, fromt he ground up, to bankrupt society.


It isn't that we make "bad choices" in a given monetary system, IT IS THAT THE DEBT MONEY MONETARY IS A PRIMA FASCIE FRAUD RUN BY CRIMINALS.

Very, very few Mises types understand this...  which probably explains the funding he received from the Rockefeller Foundation.  There is no way he would've been funded if he actually understood and communicated the criminal nature of our monetary system.

Debt Money Tyranny

To debunk this debt based money system in a way that no establishment entity ever has, including the libertarian establishment...

Debunking Money

^^^  Watch this video...^^^

To all the Austrians - it is impossible to have net savings in society (ex the supranational private banking cartel).  Period.

If you don't comprehend this, you don't understand money.

BTW, this was not true when Austrian Economics was developed...  BUT IT IS TRUE NOW.

The monetary system changed and there are real implication to that change.

Tasty Sandwich's picture

Confirmation bias.

We're all susceptible.

It's difficult to give up something you wholeheartedly believe or want to believe - whether economic theories, religion, god, political ideology, etc.

People will fight for their beliefs long before they'll reconsider.

TuPhat's picture

I'll just wait till they make the movie and it comes on SYFY channel.

Mercury's picture

No, I haven't read the book and don't plan too.

But I believe Thomas Piketty wants to raise my taxes and insert more government controls deeper into my life.

What else do I need to know...that it's for my own good?

Variance Doc's picture

Lloyd Shapley(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lloyd_Shapley) was my undergraduate thesis advisor. We worked on economics and game theory.

I mentioned once, that Hawking had stated that for every equation in a book, the readership goes down by half. Shapley shot back with "Yeah, but the IQ goes up by four!"

Brilliant man.

flysofree's picture

I don't believe that the author of this piece knows who Thomas Pikkedy is.

Anyone who reads and quotes WSJ needs to have their head examined. WSJ is the right-wing propaganda tool of the bankers and plutocrats.


Dr. Engali's picture

Maybe the NYTs is more to your liking....Gooooooooo Blue team!

NotApplicable's picture

Funny that this book is about as "left-wing" as you can get, as it's nothing more than the continuation of Marx's narrative about the death of capitalism. Then of course, you don't know who Pikkety is either, given you don't know how to spell his name.

Do you always make such flippant comments without the slightest knowledge of the subject?