OK, so I personally busted Piketty just making stuff up about tax rates, and in a way that served his narrative. Economist Diana Furchtgott-Roth at the Manhattan Institute caught him just making stuff up about the minimum wage, and in a way that served his narrative.
Now Chris Giles of FT comes out with an analysis that begins this way:
[W]hen writing an article on the distribution of wealth in the UK, I noticed a serious discrepancy between the contemporary concentration of wealth described in Capital in the 21st Century and that reported in the official UK statistics. Professor Piketty cited a figure showing the top 10 per cent of British people held 71 per cent of total national wealth. The Office for National Statistics latest Wealth and Assets Survey put the figure at only 44 per cent.
This is a material difference and it prompted me to go back through Piketty’s sources. I discovered that his estimates of wealth inequality – the centrepiece of Capital in the 21st Century – are undercut by a series of problems and errors. Some issues concern sourcing and definitional problems. Some numbers appear simply to be constructed out of thin air.
When I have tried to correct for these apparent errors, a rather different picture of wealth inequality appeared.
Two of Capital in the 21st Century’s central findings – that wealth inequality has begun to rise over the past 30 years and that the US obviously has a more unequal distribution of wealth than Europe – no longer seem to hold.
Now I haven’t personally gone through and verified Giles’ claims (I *did* verify the ones about the minimum wage–and yep, Piketty did indeed just make up a bunch of stuff that served his narrative on that issue). But this looks pretty bad.
But remember kids, all we troglodyte critics can really do is sputter and call Piketty names. We got nothin’.