By Pavlina Tcherneva (revised 10/10/14)
Here are my brief replies to his last post.
- Let me say it again. His business cycle chart is incorrect. One cannot make any sense of what is happening to the distribution of income growth over time by the way he reports his periods. To use his own words, it does not “convey history correctly”.
You can be the judge of whose method is better (his or mine) in calculating the business cycles, but even if you use his method, his results are wrong. See herewhere I present two business cycle charts (using both methods). Both methods yield completely different and more depressing trends than in his chart. It is unclear how he’s chosen his periods.
In a very disingenuous way, Winship, passes the hot potato and implicates Saez and Piketty in his own error, arguing that they do the same thing in Table 1 here. This is incorrect. Saez and Piketty’s table shows one whole time period and then several discrete periodsof various recessions and expansions and, unlike Winship, they have identified their expansions and recessions correctly. They do not report the history of all business cycles (go ahead, check).
- Winship wants an apology from me about incorrectly claiming that his charts exclude capital gains data. First, I do not claim that his actual data exclude them. Second, Winship used a ton of space to argue how hard it was to measure capitals gains and how, in his words, “these problems argue for excluding taxable realized capital gains”.
So I challenged “why should we exclude them?” and have made a strong argument that the proper correction to Piketty’s data is to include all forms of income from wealth (and provided examples how to do it).
So what exactly is Winship saying? He writes a whole section trying to convince his readers that because of difficulties with capital income measurement, we are better off excluding them, and then want us to believe that he’s actually making the case for including them! Which is it? Do we include them or not?
As a point of logic, excluding them would make the numbers look better, whether he actually does it or not. That’s the essence of my argument. The burden is on Winship to explain to his readers that he is fact including them and why he does it, after making such a long case about the problem with counting them.
- The bottom line is this: if his ‘money chart’ falls so out of line with the global research program on inequality (showing an improvement in the way gains are distributed over the last 25 years), he should have asked himself “what am I doing wrong here?”
- He has neither corrected my original chart, nor has he produced an enlightening alternative.
- He has not addressed any of my essential points about capital
- And as I said in my last post, sweeping the discussion of capital gains under the rug serves the narrative of the inequality deniers—and the failure to engage me on the proper corrections accounting for stock options, carried interest, tax treatments and other government transfers to the wealthy, only reinforces his ideological culpability.
As tantalizing as this debate may have been for our readers, at least in my case, I like to spend my time on research that better illuminates the problems of our time.
We have serious problems to address and we need serious people to address them.
p.s. And by the way, his whole argument that “the rate at which it has risen hasn’t steadily grown” is just bizarre. Just because he can take a derivative, doesn’t mean that he is making any meaningful contribution to the discussion. Whoever talked about the acceleration in the gains captured by the top 10%?