The current buzz-topic of the month is Thomas Piketty's magisterial tome, Capital in the 21st Century—currently at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list, #5 in the UK, and in the sights of every right wing pundit, goldbug, and economic quack globally.
I have not read Piketty (yet) so I am about as unqualified to comment on his central thesis as anyone. But I've read the reviews, so I'm going to bloviate anyway—about the implications for a topic I occasionally obsess over, like a diseased cur chewing on an ulcerated hernia.
Piketty's central thesis (at second hand) appears to be that in an era of slow economic growth (like the 21st century to date) characterised by high rates of return on investment (ditto) the rate of capital formation outstrips the rate of wealth creation, leading to centralization of wealth and an increasing gap between the rich and the rest of us. Marketization and trickle-down economics have signally failed to close this widening divide, and so it follows that the deregulation of trade and investment and the reduction in taxation of assets that have typified the past forty years are damaging to the social fabric; if we want to reduce inequality we will have to go after the capital concentrations with a pointy expropriative stick. (Cue right-wing/libertarian meltdown in 3 ... 2 ... 1 ...)
This interests me because it looks like a really fascinating opportunity for an experiment in libertarian paternalism.