4.0 out of 5 starsGlass Half Full — Cannot Be Ignored But Also Off the Rails, September 4, 2014
Among all economists in the English language, I hold Joseph Stiglitz to be among the most enlightened and virtuous. When I formed a “dream” coalition cabinet in 2012, he was on it. His co-author is of less interest to me — finance geeks have been demonstrably impotent these past fifty years — and particularly those who fall prey to mathematical formulas lacking in social integrity — and I believe with book would have been stronger had Stiglitz either gone it alone, or collaborated with an educator such as Derek Bok. The book is also rooted in old lectures, starting in 2008, and it is focused on Kenneth Arrow’s work, which is best appreciated on its own merits. See, for example:
The weakest point of this book, which does indeed have much to offer for anyone who cares about the future of academia, commerce, governance, and society, is that is “assumes” integrity on the part of the government, and that industrial policies are somehow going to corrupt deep ethical and intellectual failings across all major forms of organization (academia, civil society, commerce, government, law enforcement, media, military, and non-governmental/non-profit). This is the same mistake made by Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update and the Club of Rome. The *losing* alternative to the Limits to Growth assumption that top-down government would deal responsibly with climate change and other high level threats focused instead on education from the bottom up — the central point of Will Durant’s 1919 doctoral thesis, now available as Philosophy and the Social Problem: The Annotated Edition.
5.0 out of 5 starsEthical Economist Confronts Two-Party Tyranny — Defines 70% of the Way Forward, November 26, 2013
I have admired this economist, one of a tiny handful who are not bought and paid for by the banks, for quite a long time. I’d like to see him at Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), with a Deputy Director for Management that actually has authority for Whole of Government strategy and management. Of course that would require an honest president and an honest congress, so I am not holding my breath on this one.
In passing, I ran for President as an accepted candidate for the Reform Party in 2012 — it only took six weeks to recognize that neither Occupy nor any of the other candidates (there are EIGHT accredited parties in the USA, only 2 of which are allowed to actually run for office) were in the least bit interested in a universal demand for electoral reform and a coalition cabinet. See the six big ideas at bigbatusa.org, where you will also find the author of this book listed as the ideal member of the Cabinet for the OMB function.
There are so many other excellent reviews, I am using my contribution to list his specific recommendation for economic reform, and point to a few other related books that support this extraordinary work. My comments added below are in brackets.
Roosevelt Institute Braintruster and Nobel laureate Joe Stiglitz identifies five lessons we can take away from the financial crisis.
The best that can be said for 2009 is that it could have been worse, that we pulled back from the precipice on which we seemed to be perched in late 2008, and that 2010 will almost surely be better for most countries around the world. The world has also learned some valuable lessons, though at great cost both to current and future prosperity — costs that were unnecessarily high given that we should already have learned them.
The first lesson is that markets are not self-correcting. Indeed, without adequate regulation, they are prone to excess. In 2009, we again saw why Adam Smith’s invisible hand often appeared invisible: it is not there. The bankers’ pursuit of self-interest (greed) did not lead to the well-being of society; it did not even serve their shareholders and bondholders well. It certainly did not serve homeowners who are losing their homes, workers who have lost their jobs, retirees who have seen their retirement funds vanish, or taxpayers who paid hundreds of billions of dollars to bail out the banks.