Sticking it to Stiglitz

Last Updated Apr 1, 2008 10:22 PM EDT

The third time may be more strike than charm for Joseph Stiglitz. Stiglitz, a Nobel-winning economist and author of two high-profile books on globalization, has published a third, "Making Globalization Work." In a review entitled Gloomy About Globalization Robert Skidelsky, a British economist and author of a well-regarded biography of John Maynard Keynes, shakes his head at the book. He does give it praise, saying "it has many good qualities, and much forceful argument." And he in particular likes a chapter Stiglitz penned on international debt.

But he thinks the book unsatisfying. He notes several flaws:

1) Stiglitz does not give globalization enough credit for reducing poverty. Instead, Stiglitz takes a glass half-empty approach to the issue, despite what would seem to be improvement in the fight against poverty.
2) Stiglitz does not hold poor countries responsible for their own failures.
3) Stiglitz avoids the problems globalization creates for developed nations, such as depressing wages and increasing unemployment.
4) Stiglitz discounts the potential for financial volatility.
5) Stiglitz does not address current-account deficits, which he argues has allowed the U.S. to live well beyond its means while simultaneously destroying its ability to compete in the global economy.
6) He thinks the book is "carelessly written."

Skidelsky's discussion of the economic issues alone makes a useful thumbnail for anyone thinking about the global economy. Though in our developed world, it could lead to a little gloom that Stiglitz doesn't seem to have the answers we need.

  • Michael Fitzgerald

    Michael Fitzgerald writes about innovation and other big ideas in business for publications like the New York Times, The Economist, Fast Company, Inc. and CIO. He’s worked as a writer or editor at Red Herring, ZDNet, TechTV and Computerworld, and has received numerous awards as a writer and editor. Most recently, his piece on the hacker collective the l0pht won the 2008 award for best trade piece from the American Society of Journalists and Authors. He was also a 2007 Templeton-Cambridge Journalism Fellow in Science and Religion.