Economist Piketty declines France's Legion d'Honneur

43-year-old says government should focus on economy and not saying who is honourable

 A file photograph of French economist Thomas Piketty who has said  he will not accept the Legion d’honneur - his country’s highest award. Photograph: Pontus Lundahl/EPA.

A file photograph of French economist Thomas Piketty who has said he will not accept the Legion d’honneur - his country’s highest award. Photograph: Pontus Lundahl/EPA.

 

France’s star economist Thomas Piketty has declined the country’s highest award, the Legion d’Honneur, local media said on Thursday.

Mr Piketty (43) shot to fame and topped best-seller lists in 2014 with his controversial book on wealth and inequality.

“I refuse this nomination because I don’t think it’s up to a government to say who is honourable,” Mr Piketty told 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, Mr Piketty was named on Wednesday on a list of new recipients of the Legion d’Honneur, awarded by president Francois Hollande.

His book “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” has attracted both praise and invective on its way to the top of the Amazon. com books best-seller list.

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, Mr Piketty has become very critical of Mr Hollande.

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