Bestselling French economist Thomas Piketty releases plan to phase out billionaires

  • Piketty calls for a graduated wealth tax of 5% on those worth 2 million euros or more and up to 90% on those worth more than 2 billion euros.
  • He argues billionaires are harmful to economic growth.
  • Piketty’s 2013 bestselling book “Capital in the 21st Century” was global bestseller, and he has a new forthcoming book called “Capital and Ideology”.

In an interview with the French magazine L’Obs, economist Thomas Piketty lays out his plan to abolish billionaires. Under his plan, there would be a graduated wealth tax of 5% on those worth 2 million euros or more and up to 90% on those worth more than 2 billion euros.

“Entrepreneurs will have millions or tens of millions,” he said. “But beyond that, those who have hundreds of millions or billions will have to share with shareholders, who could be employees. So no, there won’t be billionaires anymore. How can we justify that their existence is necessary for the common good? Contrary to what is often said, their enrichment was obtained thanks to these collective goods, which are the public knowledge, the infrastructures, the laboratories of research.”

Piketty rocketed to notoriety with the 2013 publication of his book “Capital in the 21st Century.” It is seen as a seminal work by progressive and leftist economists. Piketty also has a forthcoming book called “Capitalism and Ideology,” to be released in English in March.

One piece of evidence Piketty cites is the fact that per capita income growth was 2.2% a year in the U.S. between 1950 and 1990. But when the number of billionaires exploded in the 1990s and 2000s — growing from about 100 in 1990 to around 600 today — per capita income growth fell to 1.1%.

Piketty added, “It is time to break out of this phase of sacredness of property. To overcome capitalism.”

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