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Book cover for A Gentleman in Moscow
While the splendors that elude us in youth are likely to receive our casual contempt in adolescence and our measured consideration in adulthood, they forever hold us in their thrall.
Thomas Piketty
“In 1910, capital inequality there was very high, though still markedly lower than in Europe: the top decile owned about 80 percent of total wealth and the top centile around 45 percent (see Figure 10.5). Interestingly, the fact that inequality in the New World seemed to be catching up with inequality in old Europe greatly worried US economists at the time. Willford King’s book on the distribution of wealth in the United States in 1915—the first broad study of the question—is particularly illuminating in this regard.13 From today’s perspective, this may seem surprising: we have been accustomed for several decades now to the fact that the United States is more inegalitarian than Europe and even that many Americans are proud of the fact (often arguing that inequality is a prerequisite of entrepreneurial dynamism and decrying Europe as a sanctuary of Soviet-style egalitarianism). A century ago, however, both the perception and the reality were strictly the opposite: it was obvious to everyone that the New World was by nature less inegalitarian than old Europe, and this difference was also a subject of pride.”
Thomas Piketty, Capital in the Twenty-First Century

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