French Economist: Billionaires Harm Economic Growth

Famous French economist Thomas Piketty remarked that billionaires are detrimental to the growth of the economy. CNBC reported that Piketty proposes a tax plan that “would effectively abolish” billionaires.

Piketty told L’Obs in an interview that his graduated wealth tax will constitute a 5% charge for individuals with a net worth of 2 million euros and above, while 90% will be imposed on those with more than 2 billion euros.

The economist said that entrepreneurs with hundreds of millions or billions will be required to “share with shareholders, who could be employees.” He also touched on the justification of the existence of billionaire entrepreneurs for the common good. The expert also said that the type of “free-market capitalism” in the US since President Ronald Reagan should be reformed.

According to the economic specialist, billionaires accumulate wealth through “collective goods, which are the public knowledge, the infrastructures, [and] the laboratories of research.”

He also disputed the claim that these individuals generate jobs and facilitate growth. He emphasized that the per capita income growth in the US from 1950 to 1990 is 2.2% per year. However, with the boom of billionaires in the 1990s and 2000s, the per capita income per year dropped to 1.1%.

Piketty is known for his 2013 book tackling inequality titled “Capital in the 21st Century.” The book became favored source material for advocates of wealth taxes. A second book, “Capital and Ideology” in 2019 and will be available in English in March next year.

Despite his popularity, the French government has not adopted any of his tax reform plans. The country removed its wealth tax back in 2017 as it “discouraged investment.”

Meanwhile, Piketty has expressed optimism for the presidential campaigns of Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. Warren is known for her wealth tax proposal, while Sanders is for his social democratic platforms.