This morning Prof Raymond Parsons is giving the opening address at the 8th International Business Conference in Swakopmund, Namibia. The title of the presentation is “Some business challenges in a post-Piketty world”.
“Piketty asserts that if ‘capitalist economies’ are left to their own devices, then on present trends they will experience ever greater inequality as the rich get richer, reinforced by globalization and inheritance….especially in mature societies the main driver of inequality has been unequal ownership of assets, rather than divergences in income.”
Prof Parsons argues why we all need to take the Piketty hypothesis seriously:
- it has struck tremendous resonance with intellectuals and policymakers throughout the world grappling with issues of unemployment, poverty and inequality, especially in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis…a highly influential book
- assessments fluctuate between those who think his work is ‘Nobel-prize worthy’ and those who see him as ‘a modern Marx’…there is nonetheless also general consensus that he must be taken seriously…. Piketty addresses the fundamental challenge of our time: inequality
- closer home it is a matter of time before Piketty’s work begins to influence debates about wealth and redistribution in SA, given the domestic situation…Piketty’s work broadly resonates with the relevant SA profile
- in fact, the first lines of the first chapter in the Piketty book refer to the 2012 Marikana tragedy in SA as an example of ‘distributional conflict’ and a glimpse of the ‘threat to democratic societies posed by extreme inequality’, … Piketty doesn’t hate capitalism, he just wants ‘to fix it’, he says.
He also gives some macro and micro guidelines for business. It includes supporting the NDP, pro-competition policies and better relationships with employees at the work place. Involvement in the activities of organised business and taking a long term view of investment in skills and training are also put forward as guidelines.
You can download the full presentation here: Parsons on Piketty