Capital gains

In his book Capital in the 21st Century Thomas Piketty argues that the returns on capital have exceeded economic growth, that is, r>g. Let’s take a look.

Here is a chart showing the Dow Jones Industrial Average and gross national product since January 2009 (= 100).

GNP AND DJIA 2009 TO 2014

I will come straight to a confession. I have no idea how those with capital continue to extract wealth from an historically under-performing economy. Moreover, how long can the above trends continue? If I don’t know the answer to the first question, I’m surely stumped by the latter, though I suspect that it involves some variation on a grand Ponzi scheme, robbing from the future to enrich the present.

If Chomsky is right, that “capitalism is suicide,” there will be an end to all this. I’m betting that it will not be a pretty one.

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