Picking the wrong data 4

Thomas Piketty’s book Capital in the Twenty-First Century (see our review of it, The Savior of Socialism Proves the Worth of Capitalism, under Pages) has been found to contain serious errors by the Financial Times.

Their findings confirm the unfavorable verdict pronounced on the book by both our reviewer Don L and, in comment, by our in-house economist Burro.

We quote from the FT article by Chris Giles:

The data underpinning Professor Piketty’s 577-page tome, which has dominated best-seller lists in recent weeks, contain a series of errors that skew his findings. The FT found mistakes and unexplained entries in his spreadsheets …

The central theme of Prof Piketty’s work is that wealth inequalities are heading back up to levels last seen before the first world war. The investigation undercuts this claim, indicating there is little evidence in Prof Piketty’s original sources to bear out the thesis that an increasing share of total wealth is held by the richest few.

Prof Piketty … provides detailed sourcing for his estimates of wealth inequality in Europe and the US over the past 200 years. In his spreadsheets, however, there are transcription errors from the original sources and incorrect formulas. It also appears that some of the data are cherry-picked or constructed without an original source.

Now we see nothing wrong, in any case, with income or wealth inequality. (Piketty confuses the two.) We have observed that, in open societies, wherever the rich are richest, the poor are least poor.

It is the Left that wants economic equality, and wherever it has tried to establish that impossible condition it has not just failed, it has created hell on earth.

The Left swooped on Piketty’s obese compendium of wishes and errors, as a vindication of socialist theory.  (See for example the encomium by the leftist professor Paul Krugman here. He thinks Piketty has made a “masterly diagnosis” in his “superb book”.)

So we hail the FT’s revelations with more than a touch of unapologetic Schadenfreude.

In a comment today under our post The savior of socialism proves the worth of capitalism (May 20, 2014), Burro writes:

A great leap forward has just occurred!

No less than the Financial Times of London has right on it’s front page today, Saturday, an exposé of Pick-your-number’s book and the loony numbers it contains. It then proceeds to demolish most of the Socialist conclusions on page 3. …

[Piketty] has been shown to have attended the “Al Gore” school of statistics, and not only made errors of transcription, ie putting numbers in the wrong place which surprise, surprise was beneficial to HIS thesis but not the opposite, but “the [FT] investigation found numerous mistakes in [his] work: simple fat-finger errors; sub-optimal averaging techniques; multiple unexplained adjustments to the numbers; data entries with no sourcing; unexplained use of different time periods; and inconsistent uses of source data”. …

Picketty says he is “…happy to change my (ie his) conclusion” should such numbers be incorrect. …

Burro does not believe Piketty will change his conclusion or his mind. He wrote the book because he believes with fixed certainty that socialism is good.

It isn’t.

Posted under Capitalism, Commentary, communism, Economics, Marxism, Socialism by Jillian Becker on Saturday, May 24, 2014

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This post has 4 comments.

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  • Don L

    Wow, when I read the first couple senteces, or rather misread, I thought it said the Financial Times said my review was found to contain errors. I was mentally preparing to do battle. Then I read it again…Boy, it’s nice to be right! LOL.

    Incidentally, I redid my chart from the review. I added the DOW chart. It is direct evidence of “unnatural” (Piketty’s concept) wealth transfer caused by the FED…not because managers get to set their own salaries as Piketty found to be the plausible explanation.

    So, like his socialist theories…unintended consequences of gov’t intervention: He proves Capitalism.

  • Frank

    I guess he figured that since the IPCC could “adjust” their data to prove claims about global warming it was alright for him to do the same thing.

    • liz

      Exactly what I was thinking. They all seem to have arrived at the same brilliant, original method of supporting the socialist cause – lying.

      • Don L

        The scary part…they don’t think it’s lying. This crap is their god. Same insanity.