A bit, I hope, of relevant background to @MarcoRanaldi_ and @BrankoMilan paper that we just posted today and that looks at various capitalist systems and their inequality.
It is an area of research that would grow now that we have the methodology, the data, and interest to compare various countries/systems.

This background info is from my perspective. Marco might have a bit of a different one.
@PikettyLeMonde has emphasized in C21C the importance of the rising K share in driving income inequality.
The impact of that rising (macro) share obviously depends on how K income is distributed. If K income is distributed like L income, rising K share has no effect on Gini.
Historically K income has been heavily concentrated among the rich though.
I explored these different possibilities in a paper done for "After Piketty" edited by @HBoushey, @delong and @Econ_Marshall.
Here is the paper:
I expanded this in "C,A".
Marco was interested in the same issue: discussed it in his PhD dissertation defended at PSE. He developed a whole set of tools to explore "compositional inequality" and to thus link functional to inter-personal distribution.
Here is Marco's paper:
This link between the two was an issue that concerned many, incl. Tony Atkinson.
E.g when I wrote my paper I did not have a synthetic (single) measure of compositional ineq.
Marco "invented" that based on Gini-type approach (=> shows versatility of Gini; h/t to Shlomo Yitzaki)
It is thus a significant methodological advance.
Marco has several other papers at various stages of (pre) publication.
The area will keep on growing. Other people will join and contribute.

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More from @BrankoMilan

15 Oct
One of the vignettes in my "The haves and the have-nots" has to do with data from Obama's "Dreams from my father". In the book Obama gives the wage of his grandfather in 1927 Kenya (the wages were entered into a special booklet used to control Black laborers...
...so White employers could write whether the worker was hard-working, lazy etc.)
Now it so happens that we have an income survey for 1927 Kenya & can locate Obama's grandfather in Kenyan income distribution of the time.
His wage was good for a Black man ~2x the subsistence but only 1/66 (not a typo) of European average income in Kenya. Image
Read 5 tweets
13 Oct
(Long thread--but worth reading)

I received lots of pushback (including some pretty nasty comments) on my tweets re. the most recent “Nobel Prize” in economics.
I believe that most comments reflect two entirely different views of economics: what it is and what its objectives are.

Rather than engaging in the methodological debate let me help you understand my views by giving examples of what are the big economic issues today--
--which a big prize should acknowledge.

Not so much to give these people money (they are rich anyway) but as a signaling device so that young economists should study topics that matter to people’s wellbeing in the entire world, and not minor issues.
Read 21 tweets
19 Sep
It is I think wrong to interpret Friedman's essay on shareholding capitalism in normative terms: is profit-maximization a "nice" policy or not.
It should be interpreted as the statement of the obvious: capitalists are not going to sacrifice their profits. Period.
They are not going to give up a penny. We see that every day. They might do some virtue-signaling but only if gains from it are greater than the costs.
Marx would have fully agreed with Friedman.
Accepting that Friedman was right (as he was) has strong implications for economic policy.
If you want businesses to pay for something or to do something, you tax them or regulate them. You do not expect they would do things because of their "civic duty".
Read 4 tweets
10 Sep
After watching a recent talk by Margaret McMillan on the Paris Peace Conference in 1919...
and reading a nice piece on the economic impact of the Conference by a colleague, I reread parts of Etienne Mantoux's "La paix calomniee".
It is a long and v. detailed book. In many instances (data, forecasts) he shows that Keynes was wrong.
Yet the book also showcases the ineffectiveness of many such "debunking" books. The strength of "The ECP" was not in the estimates of Belgian coal production, but in seizing on the political madness of the treaty & in the use of powerful imaginary.
Read 4 tweets
8 Sep
When I read serious journalists writing about "preserving the integrity of the US electoral process" I am really not sure if they themselves know what they mean.
If they mean that no foreigner may be allowed to express opinion on US election that has clearly never been the case and is utterly unenforceable in the age of internet. Millions of foreigners openly express opinions and no one can stop them.
Moreover, its corollary would be that no American should express an opinion on any election elsewhere which is the "rule" that the self same journalists do not observe and to which the same problems as just mentioned apply.
Read 7 tweets
7 Sep
Regarding CHN "stealing" of technology, it is useful to keep several things in mind:
1. Most of the "stealing" is trading of access to the Chinese market for transfer of technology. So the issue is whether China has the right to use its huge market as a leverage in negotiations.
2. All of today's developed countries (as described by Ha Joon Chang in "Bad Samaritans") routinely "stole" foreign technologies to get ahead. They, incl. the US, generally refused to accept foreigners' patent rights (see Chang's chapter 6).
3. International devt organizations for decades lamented insufficient transfer of technology from rich to poor countries. Does it make sense now, when such transfers seem to work (other countries' using the same tactics as CHN), to reverse that position?
Read 4 tweets

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