Economist Thomas Piketty refuses French Legion d’Honneur

Not up to government to say who is honourable, says economist

Economist Thomas Piketty: President François Hollande’s government “would do better to focus on reviving growth in France and Europe”. Photograph: Bart Maat/EPA

Economist Thomas Piketty: President François Hollande’s government “would do better to focus on reviving growth in France and Europe”. Photograph: Bart Maat/EPA

 

France’s star economist Thomas Piketty, who shot to fame and topped best- seller lists last year with his controversial book on wealth and inequality, has declined the country’s highest award, the Legion d’Honneur, French media said.

“I refuse this nomination because I don’t think it’s up to a government to say who is honourable,” Prof Piketty told the AFP news agency. “They would do better to focus on reviving growth in France and Europe.”

Together with Nobel economics laureate Jean Tirole and Nobel literature prize winner Patrick Modiano, Prof Piketty was named on Wednesday on a list of new recipients of the Legion d’Honneur, awarded by President François Hollande.

His book Capital in the Twenty-First Century has attracted both praise and invective. New York Times columnist Paul Krugman has called it a game-changer that demolishes the myth that “great wealth is earned and deserved”.

Once close to France’s ruling Socialist party, Prof Piketty has become very critical of Mr Hollande.

“There is a degree of improvisation in François Hollande’s economic policy that is appalling,” he told Le Monde in June. – Reuters