Seven years ago the French economist Thomas Piketty released Capital in the Twenty-First Century, a magnum opus on income inequality. Economists already knew and admired Piketty’s scholarly work, and many — myself included — offered the book high praise. Remarkably, the book also became a huge international best seller.
In retrospect, however, what professionals saw in Capital wasn’t the same thing the broader audience saw. Economists already knew about rising income inequality. What excited them was Piketty’s.