Thursday, November 20, 2008

Stiglitz On Market Fundamentalism

The market crisis exposes the failure of the neo-con agenda of deregulation, self regulation, privatization and contracting out. The real solution to this crisis as Stiglitz pointed out in 2006 is the socializtion of capital.

Joseph Stiglitz was awarded the Nobel Prize for Economics in 2001.

Gardels: What, then, is the ultimate impact of the Wall Street meltdown of market-driven globalization?

Stiglitz: The globalization agenda has been closely linked with the market fundamentalists -- the ideology of free markets and financial liberalization. In this crisis, we see the most market-oriented institutions in the most market-oriented economy failing and running to the government for help. Everyone in the world will say now that this is the end of market fundamentalism.
In this sense, the fall of Wall Street is for market fundamentalism what the fall of the Berlin Wall was for communism -- it tells the world that this way of economic organization turns out not to be sustainable. In the end, everyone says, that model doesn't work. This moment is a marker that the claims of financial market liberalization were bogus.

Financial markets are supposed to be a means to an end -- a more prosperous and stable economy as a result of good allocation of resources and better management of risk. But instead, financial markets didn't manage risk, they created it. They didn't enable America's families to manage the risk of volatile interest rates, and now millions are losing their homes. Furthermore, they misallocated hundreds of billions of dollar.
We will never achieve perfect stability of our financial markets, or of our economy. Markets are not self-correcting.

Gardels: What set of policies in the advanced countries can make globalization work?

Stiglitz: The prescription for making globalization work is what is generally called “the Scandinavian model.” That means high levels of investment in education, research and technology plus a strong safety net. That of course also entails, as in the Scandinavian countries, a highly progressive income tax.
Far from making these countries less competitive, it has made them more so. Though it may seem a contradiction to conservative ideologues who think cutting taxes is the answer to everything, the fact is that people are more willing to take entrepreneurial risks if they can count on a safety net and if they have the training to be innovative.
In Sweden, the social democrats who fashioned this policy have just been turned out of office. But we should not read that as a some kind of rupture in the social consensus. The new, more conservative government will only be about fine-tuning the model.

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