Thomas Piketty has responded in detail to the FT's criticism of the wealth inequality statistics in his Capital book (see earlier post on this) - click here. Wealth inequality data is much harder to collect than income inequality data for the long run. My paper on wealth inequality in Ireland over the period 1858 to 2001 uses probate data to measure wealth inequality. The findings of my paper agree with Piketty's view that wealth has become more concentrated over recent decades.
As an undergraduate, I was taught about the failure of Herstatt Bank in 1974 and Herstatt risk. This bank was only the 35th largest bank in Germany at the time so why would anyone be interested in studying its failure? Herstatt failed because of its involvement in risky foreign exchange business. When it closed its doors on 26 June 1974, counterparty banks (mainly in New York) had not received dollars due to them because of time-zone differences - this is known as settlement risk. The cross-jurisdictional implications of its failure resulted in the Bank for International Settlements setting up the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision and Herstatt's failure was a key reason for the establishment of real-time gross settlements systems, which ensures that payments between two banks are executed in real time. The Bank of England's Ben Norman has an interesting post on Herstatt over at the Bank's new blog ( Bank Underground ). As well as giving an excellent overview of