What’s the big deal about inequality?
Inequality in the United States, Europe, and elsewhere has become a hot topic since the global economic downturn highlighted the stark differences between rich and poor. Thomas Piketty's widely-reviewed (and, to hear him tell it, widely misunderstood) best-selling book has illustrated just how wide the disparities are in income and wealth. His data show that the gaps are at their widest since the waning days of the Gilded Age, which was not capitalism's finest hour. But how much these gaps really matter in practice is a bit more complicated.