Home > The Economics Profession, The Economy > Stiglitz: “A full-time worker in the US is worse off today than he or she was 44 years ago.”

Stiglitz: “A full-time worker in the US is worse off today than he or she was 44 years ago.”

from David Ruccio

The European: Four years after the beginning of the financial crisis, are you encouraged by the ways in which economists have tried to make sense of it, and by the ways in which those insights have been taken up by policy makers?
Stiglitz: Let me break this down in a slightly different way. Academic economists played a big role in causing the crisis. Their models were overly simplified, distorted, and left out the most important aspects. Those faulty models then encouraged policy-makers to believe that the markets would solve all the problems. Before the crisis, if I had been a narrow-minded economist, I would have been very pleased to see that academics had a big impact on policy. But unfortunately that was bad for the world. After the crisis, you would have hoped that the academic profession had changed and that policy-making had changed with it and would become more skeptical and cautious. You would have expected that after all the wrong predictions of the past, politics would have demanded from academics a rethinking of their theories. I am broadly disappointed on all accounts. . . 

The European: And it does not mean that economic growth satisfied the criteria of social fairness.
Stiglitz: Yes, so there is one other thing we have to take into account: What is happening to most citizens in a country? When you look at America, you have to concede that we have failed. Most Americans today are worse off than they were fifteen years ago. A full-time worker in the US is worse off today than he or she was 44 years ago. That is astounding – half a century of stagnation. The economic system is not delivering. It does not matter whether a few people at the top benefitted tremendously – when the majority of citizens are not better off, the economic system is not working.

Joseph Stiglitz, in an interview with Martin Eiermann [ht: gh]

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  1. Herb Wiseman
    May 1, 2012 at 8:44 pm

    The same points plus a few others are made in Zombie Economics. A worthwhile read!

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