I originally had a much longer essay on this subject which I’ve decided to scrap in favor of simply mentioning that over at the Wall Street Journal Alan Reynolds has an op-ed noting the problems with the alternative data on U. S. wealth inequality to which rock star economist Thomas Piketty has drawn attention in preference to his own:
In his book, Mr. Piketty constructed estimates of top wealth shares, decade by decade, melding and massaging different kinds of data (estate tax records, the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances). These estimates are suspect in their own right; but as we now learn from Mr. Piketty’s response to Mr. Giles, we can ignore them.
Yet Mr. Piketty’s preferred alternative, the Zucman-Saez slide show, is also irreparably flawed as a guide to wealth concentration. Mr. Piketty’s premonition of soaring U.S. wealth shares for the top 1% finds no credible support in his book or elsewhere.
Things have changed a lot since Pay Moynihan was around. Now everybody does have their own facts.