Joseph E. Stiglitz's Blog

December 5, 2017

Trade deals were hammered out in secret by multinationals at the expense of workers and citizens. Benefits must be shared if the global economy is to work

Fifteen years ago, I published Globalisation and Its Discontents, a book that sought to explain why there was so much dissatisfaction with globalisation within the developing countries. Quite simply, many believed that the system was rigged against them, and global trade agreements were singled out for being particularly unfair.

Now discontent with globalisation has fuelled a wave of populism in the US and other advanced economies, led by politicians who claim that the system is unfair to their countries. In the US, President Donald Trump insists that America’s trade negotiators were snookered by those from Mexico and China.

Related: Globalisation is dented but not doomed

Related: Business Today: sign up for a morning shot of financial news

Related: Joseph Stiglitz: 'Trump has fascist tendencies'

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Published on December 05, 2017 05:42 • 296 views

October 19, 2017

The current regime is unsustainable. Emerging economies are right to lead the pushback against patenting standards

When the South African government attempted to amend its laws in 1997 to avail itself of affordable generic medicines for the treatment of HIV/Aids, the full legal might of the global pharmaceutical industry bore down on the country, delaying implementation and extracting a high human cost. South Africa eventually won its case, but the government learned its lesson: it did not try again to put its citizens’ health and wellbeing into its own hands by challenging the conventional global intellectual property (IP) regime.

Until now. The South African cabinet is preparing to finalise an IP policy that promises to expand access to medicines substantially. South Africa will now undoubtedly face all manner of bilateral and multilateral pressure from wealthy countries. But the government is right, and other developing and emerging economies should follow in its footsteps.

Related: Protect the drug giants' patents - and harm the health of the poor?

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Published on October 19, 2017 00:42 • 459 views

October 18, 2017

The health and wellbeing of people should be put before corporate profits

When the South African government attempted to amend its laws in 1997 to avail itself of affordable generic medicines for the treatment of HIV/Aids, the full legal might of the global pharmaceutical industry bore down on the country, delaying implementation and extracting a high human cost. South Africa eventually won its case, but the government learned its lesson: it did not try again to put its citizens’ health and wellbeing into its own hands by challenging the conventional global intellectual property (IP) regime.

Until now. The South African cabinet is preparing to finalise an IP policy that promises to expand access to medicines substantially. South Africa will now undoubtedly face all manner of bilateral and multilateral pressure from wealthy countries. But the government is right, and other developing and emerging economies should follow in its footsteps.

Related: Protect the drug giants' patents - and harm the health of the poor?

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Published on October 18, 2017 08:13 • 420 views

October 4, 2017

The Republicans’ proposals dodge necessary changes and will leave the country with a mountain of debt

Having failed to “repeal and replace” the 2010 Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”), Donald Trump’s administration and the Republican congressional majority have now moved on to tax reform. Eight months after assuming office, the administration has been able to offer only an outline of what it has in mind. But what we know is enough to feel a deep sense of alarm.

Tax policy should reflect a country’s values and address its problems. And today, the United States – and much of the world – confronts four central problems: widening income inequality, growing job insecurity, climate change and anaemic productivity growth. America faces, in addition, the need to rebuild its decaying infrastructure and strengthen its underperforming primary and secondary education system.

Related: The great unwinding: Fed begins slow demise of its post-crash stimulus

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Published on October 04, 2017 06:33 • 399 views

September 8, 2017

We should have learned the lessons of Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy – we need political action to help prevent disasters

Tropical Storm Harvey has left in its wake upended lives and enormous property damage, estimated by some at $150-$180bn. But the storm that pummelled the Texas coast for the better part of a week also raises deep questions about the United States’ economic system and politics.

It is ironic, of course, that an event so related to climate change would occur in a state that is home to so many climate-change deniers – and where the economy depends so heavily on the fossil fuels that drive global warming. Of course, no particular climate event can be directly related to the increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. But scientists have long predicted that such increases would boost not only average temperatures, but also weather variability – and especially the occurrence of extreme events such as Harvey. As the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded several years ago, “There is evidence that some extremes have changed as a result of anthropogenic influences, including increases in atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases.” Astrophysicist Adam Frank succinctly explained: “Greater warmth means more moisture in the air which means stronger precipitation.”

Related: After the storm: how should cities rebuild post hurricanes like Harvey and Irma?

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Published on September 08, 2017 02:58 • 550 views

July 27, 2017

The president thinks lower taxes and deregulation will solve the US’s problems. They won’t work, because they never have

Although America’s rightwing plutocrats may disagree about how to rank the country’s major problems – for example, inequality, slow growth, low productivity, opioid addiction, poor schools, and deteriorating infrastructure – the solution is always the same: lower taxes and deregulation, to “incentivise” investors and “free up” the economy. Donald Trump is counting on this package to make America great again.

It won’t, because it never has. When Ronald Reagan tried it in the 1980s, he claimed that tax revenues would rise. Instead, growth slowed, tax revenues fell, and workers suffered. The big winners in relative terms were corporations and the rich, who benefited from dramatically reduced tax rates.

Related: How about a little accountability for economists when they mess up? | Dean Baker

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Published on July 27, 2017 03:42 • 755 views

July 3, 2017

Trump argues the treaty is unfair to the US but it is America that continues to impose an unfair burden on others

Under President Donald Trump’s leadership, the United States took another major step toward establishing itself as a rogue state on 1 June, when it withdrew from the Paris climate agreement. For years, Trump has indulged the strange conspiracy theory that, as he put it in 2012: “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing non-competitive.” But this was not the reason Trump advanced for withdrawing the US from the Paris accord. Rather, the agreement, he alleged, was bad for the US and implicitly unfair to it.

While fairness, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder, Trump’s claim is difficult to justify. On the contrary, the Paris accord is very good for America, and it is the US that continues to impose an unfair burden on others.

Related: Business Today: sign up for a morning shot of financial news

Related: How to respond to Trump's America | Joseph Stiglitz

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Published on July 03, 2017 01:37 • 842 views

June 7, 2017

Neoliberalism was a creature of the Reagan and Thatcher era. Austerity is its death rattle. Before it does any more damage, Britain needs a plan for growth

The choice facing the voters in this election is clear – between more failed austerity or a Labour party advancing an economic agenda that is right for the UK. To understand why Labour is right, we first need to look back to the 1980s.

Under Ronald Reagan in the United States and Margaret Thatcher in the UK, there was a rewriting of the basic rules of capitalism. These two governments changed the rules governing labour bargaining, weakening trade unions; and they weakened anti-trust enforcement, allowing more monopolies to be created. In our economy today we can see industries with one or two or three firms with market power. This gives them the power to raise prices – and as they raise prices, people’s incomes fall, in terms of what they can buy.

Austerity has not only damaged the European economies, including the UK, but actually threatens future growth

Related: The austerity delusion | Paul Krugman

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Published on June 07, 2017 05:20 • 958 views

June 2, 2017

Action is needed to safeguard economic progress against a prejudiced White House that rejects science and enlightened values

Donald Trump has thrown a hand grenade into the global economic architecture that was so painstakingly constructed in the years after the end of the second world war. The attempted destruction of this rules-based system of global governance – now manifested in Trump’s withdrawal of the United States from the 2015 Paris climate agreement – is just the latest aspect of the US president’s assault on our basic system of values and institutions.

The world is only slowly coming fully to terms with the malevolence of the Trump administration’s agenda. He and his cronies have attacked the US press – a vital institution for preserving Americans’ freedoms, rights and democracy – as an “enemy of the people”. They have attempted to undermine the foundations of our knowledge and beliefs – our epistemology – by labelling as “fake” anything that challenges their aims and arguments, even rejecting science itself. Trump’s sham justifications for spurning the Paris climate agreement is only the most recent evidence of this.

Related: How to respond to Trump's America | Joseph Stiglitz

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Published on June 02, 2017 06:29 • 1,093 views

April 3, 2017

The west’s post-cold war failures across the former Soviet bloc should not weaken its resolve to create democratic states

Today, a quarter-century after the cold war’s end, the west and Russia are again at odds. This time, at least on one side, the dispute is more transparently about geopolitical power, not ideology.

The west has supported in a variety of ways democratic movements in the post-Soviet region, hardly hiding its enthusiasm for the various “colour” revolutions that have replaced longstanding dictators with more responsive leaders – though not all have turned out to be the committed democrats they pretended to be.

Related: Donald Trump, the master of unreality, must be resisted at every turn | Joseph Stiglitz

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Published on April 03, 2017 02:56 • 4,745 views

Joseph E. Stiglitz's Blog

Joseph E. Stiglitz
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