Friday Roundup: Income inequality and “Piketty’s crumbs,” manufacturing employment and transformation

There are always a few items we’ve read during a week that deserve more attention but don’t make it into our regular posts. So we bundle them for the Friday roundup.

Here’s this week’s bundle:

Economist Tim Kane in Commentary: Piketty’s Crumbs 

Piketty writes: “The poorer half of the population are as poor today as they were in the past, with barely 5 percent of total wealth in 2010, just as in 1910. Basically, all the middle class managed to get its hands on was a few crumbs.”

…I remember the invention of the VCR, soon forgotten when the DVD took its place. And who could forget the first computer their parents bought in the late 1970s, expensive and hopelessly limited by today’s standards?
These are Piketty’s crumbs, too, things that add value invisible to economic metrics.

For Americans with distinct memories of life in 1980 or 1940, technical charts about inequality cannot possibly describe the difference in their lives made by these crumbs.

National Assoc. of Manufacturers: Manufacturing Employment Rose in April Following Sharp Declines in February and March

The current state of the manufacturing economy continues to be a give-and-take between signs that the sector is beginning to improve versus ongoing challenges related to global headwinds.

The American Interest: The End of Economic Development

Over the past thirty years, China has led emerging markets on a road of ever-rising standards of living and development…But, as robots increasingly replace human beings on the assembly line, the end of the well-worn development road is now in sight.

…Finally, this should be wake-up call for developed economies as well. If robots threaten jobs in China, where wages are low, they certainly threaten any hope of an industrial renaissance in developed countries…politicians need to be thinking creatively about how to create the conditions for good twenty-first century jobs—many of which are still undefined.