Global Policy Forum

Joseph Stiglitz

Joseph Stiglitz, Picture Credit: Columbia University
Joseph Stiglitz
Picture Credit: Columbia University

Joseph E. Stiglitz is especially well-known as a critic of the reigning international economic policies and the institutions that enforce them – the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the United States Treasury Department. After a distinguished academic career on the faculty of MIT, Yale and Stanford, Stiglitz joined the Clinton administration in 1993 as member of the Council of Economic Advisors. He later was named the Council's Chairman. In 1997 he took the post of Senior Vice President and Chief Economist at the World Bank Though a consummate political insider, Stiglitz grew increasingly disillusioned with the failures of neo-liberal policy and began to voice his thinking in public speeches. Increasingly outspoken, he eventually was ousted from his World Bank post, allegedly on orders from US Treasury Secretary Larry Summers. Since leaving the bank, Stiglitz has sharpened his criticism further, making embarrassing revelations about the role of the IMF in the Russian loan scandal, among other things. In mid 2001, he joined faculty of Columbia University and on 10 October 2001, it was announced that he would be awarded the Nobel Prize in Economic Science.

This section contains articles about Stiglitz's stormy career at the World Bank, texts of some of his speeches and policy papers, media interviews and other materials. Of the many senior staff who have resigned in disgust from the World Bank over the years, Stiglitz has provided us with a deep and intelligent critique.


Stiglitz on the IMF and World Bank | Stiglitz on Globalization and Liberalization
Archived Articles | Links and Resources


Stiglitz on the IMF and World Bank

 20112009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2003 | 2002 | 2001 | 2000


Interview With Joseph Stiglitz (June 2011)

In this interview, Joseph Stiglitz voices his criticism of IMF and World Bank policies. According to Stiglitz, the IMF is controlled by finance ministers and bank governors, who have created policies that favor the financial community. Furthermore, the World Bank's support for the "Washington Consensus,” a set of policies that promote "stabilization, liberalization, and privatization" of the economy, is damaging because of its emphasis on deregulation. Instead, policies should help countries develop “the right regulatory structure.” Ultimately, there must a greater adherence to democratic principles by the Bretton Woods Institutions, says Stiglitz. (The Progressive)


Capitalist Fools (January 2009)

Professor Joseph Stiglitz identifies critical mistakes, made during the Reagan, Clinton and Bush II administrations, which led to the financial crisis. Under chair Alan Greenspan, the Federal Reserve neglected its role as a regulator and helped inflate both the high-tech and the housing bubble. The US Congress allowed commercial banks to invest in high-risk projects, the government's economic policy led to excessive borrowing and lending, and politicians failed to address the underlying weakness in the US economy, even when the crisis hit. Most of the mistakes made boil down to one fundamental flaw: the belief that "markets are self-adjusting." (Vanity Fair)



The Triumphant Return of John Maynard Keynes (December 5, 2008)

Nobel Laureate Joseph E. Stiglitz describes the US and other rich countries' shift towards Keynesian interventionist policy as a "triumph of reason and evidence over ideology and interests." However, the author fears that "Keynesian doctrines will be used and abused to serve some of the same interests," if government intervention is limited to bailing out the financial sector. (Guatemala Times)]

Reversal of Fortune (October 13, 2008)

Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz describes how neoliberal "fundamentalists" with their narrow focus on free market and deregulation of the economy caused the deep financial crisis. Stiglitz urges governments to refrain from using standard monetary policy, such as lowering and raising the interest rate. Instead, governments should invest in infrastructure, education and technology to create stable international growth. (Vanity Fair)

Globalization's Positive Power (January 8, 2008)

According to Nobel laureate and economist Joseph Stiglitz, globalization can have a positive outcome, but only if developing countries are able to "take advantage of globalization, rather than be taken advantage of." He points out that India and China have resisted US pressure for neoliberal reforms such as the privatization of state assets and have created "stronger societies" by doing so. (New Statesman)


The Economic Consequences of Mr. Bush (December 2007)

Joseph Stiglitz argues in this Vanity Fair article that George Bush will take over Herbert Hoover's reputation as the US's worst president when it comes to handling the US economy. After eight years of Bush's presidency, the US economy is suffering from a pro-rich tax system, a record high trade deficit, sky-high oil prices and a falling dollar value. The falling dollar, along with tight labor and credit markets, may see the US facing a recession in 2008. Stiglitz forecasts that the US public will suffer the consequences of Bush's economic policies for generations to come.

Carbon-Taxing the Rich (December 7, 2007)

Former World Bank economist Joseph Stiglitz argues that all countries generating carbon emissions must pay the cost of reducing climate change. He suggests governments increase the use of trade sanctions to punish free riders, and that governments must use every single available instrument to stop global warming. The simplest and most effective tool argues Stiglitz, is a carbon tax, which would apply directly to the emitters and secure a fair system for both rich and poor countries. (Guardian)

10 Years After the Asian Crisis, We're Not Out of the Woods Yet (July 3, 2007)

In this article Joseph Stiglitz recalls the 1997 East Asian financial crisis and analyzes how people and governments have not learned two important lessons from the crisis which affected not only Asian nations but the whole world. First, opening up developing countries' financial markets is dangerous. Secondly, financial institutions need to design schemes that ensure global stability and promote economic growth in developing countries. Although the risk of facing a new economic collapse is not imminent, reforms to the global reserve system are still needed to achieve global prosperity and stability. (Daily Star)


Corrupting the Fight Against Corruption (October 27, 2006)

Having himself been one of the main forces in putting corruption on the World Bank's agenda, Joseph E. Stiglitz in this piece makes recommendations for improving the bank's approach to combating corruption. Pointing out that bribe payments often come from Western based corporations, Stiglitz further calls on rich governments to tie tax deductibility for corporations to transparency in all dealings with foreign governments. Stiglitz also voices the concern of some critics that the corruption agenda is "itself corrupted" with rich governments using it to cut aid to countries that don't please them. (Project Syndicate)


Odious Rulers, Odious Debts (November 2003)

Economist Joseph Stiglitz calls for an international set of laws governing the restructuring and relief of international debt. He particularly urges forgiveness of "odious debts," accumulated by dictatorial regimes in Iraq, Congo, Ethiopia, and elsewhere, to finance the oppression of its people – who are now asked to repay the debts. (Atlantic Monthly)

Don't Trust Technocrats (July 16, 2003)

Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz contends that populist movements demonstrate citizen awareness of the harmful economic effects of "experts' reforms." (Guardian)

Dealing with Debt: How to Reform the Global Financial System (Spring 2003)

"The International Monetary Fund (IMF), whose responsibility it is to ensure the stability of the global financial system, has failed miserably in its mission to stabilize international financial flows," thereby creating international financial crises. Joseph Stiglitz proposes progressive responses to these situations. These include a new, international council to monitor debt repayment and the utilization of an international currency to rebuild struggling economies. (Harvard International Review)

The Ruin of Russia (April 9, 2003)

Joseph Stiglitz attributes Russia's economic decline in the last two decades to IMF and US Treasury sponsored policy prescriptions. Russia's tumultuous transition demonstrates the danger of following a narrowly defined, ideologically-driven, neoliberal economic agenda. (Guardian)


An IMF Critic Sets Up Project to Rethink Development Policy (October 22, 2002)

Joseph Stiglitz hopes his Initiative for Policy Dialogue will bring the debate on alternative development strategies "beyond the usual elite of government officials and business executives to include civic leaders, activists, academics and journalists." (New York Times)

Michel Camdessus Responds to Joseph Stiglitz (September 12, 2002)

Joseph Stiglitz accused IMF former managing director Michel Camdessus of saying that for a people to recover economically, "they must suffer." Camdessus virulently denies the allegation, arguing that countries in financial crisis require strict adjustments to stabilize their economies, but "suffering" should not be a requirement. (Nouvel Observateur)

Accounting Tricks Around the Globe (September 2002)

Joseph Stiglitz accuses the IMF of distorting developing countries' budget estimates with Enron-style accounting "shenanigans," leading countries to pursue unnecessarily harsh austerity policies. (Project Syndicate)

A Second Chance for Brazil and the IMF (August 13, 2002)

Joseph Stiglitz writes about the Brazilian economy, the IMF, and "American hypocrisy". He recommends temporarily emergency free trade agreements instead of traditional bailouts for countries experiencing great economic difficulties. (New York Times)

The Contented Malcontent (July 6, 2002)

Anti-globalization criticisms rarely invoke a reaction from the IMF. Remarks in Joseph Stiglitz's new book on the IMF's misguided policies in the 1990s spurred a wave of IMF fury. (The Guardian)

A Different IMF Agenda During the Crisis (June 4, 2002)

Joseph Stiglitz was chief economist of the IMF during the height of the Asian financial crisis. He verifies that IMF programs failed in all countries yet, "instead of helping the crisis-hit countries deal with the problem and save them from greater devastation, the IMF turned out to be the main bill collector for the G- 7." (Business Times, Malaysia)

Rebel With a Cause (May 23, 2002)

Since his resignation from the World Bank, Joseph Stiglitz has not "quieted down" his criticism of international institutions. Rather, Stiglitz continues to raise awareness of the "dire consequences" of IMF policies, free trade and privatization. (Nation)

Argentina, Shortchanged (May 12, 2002)

Many economists reason that Argentina's economic crisis resulted from the failure to implement IMF policies correctly and vigorously. Joseph Stiglitz disagrees, arguing that completely following the IMF plan would have worsened and expedited the crisis. (Washington Post)

Don't Let America Bankrupt International Bankruptcy Reform (April 2002)

Joseph Stiglitz compliments the IMF for finally realizing its "conflict of interest" in resolving debt restructuring disputes. He also supports the IMF's plan to create an international arbiter to handle bankruptcy issues and discounts the US's alternative, market-oriented plan. (Project Syndicate)

IMF Repeating Asian Mistake in Argentina, Says Stiglitz (March 22, 2002)

Joseph Stiglitz discusses the IMF's role in Argentina's economic crisis. According to Stiglitz, the focus should be on increasing output in Argentina rather than trying so hard to attract foreign markets. (Reuters)

Lessons From Argentina's Debacle (January 10, 2002)

Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz argues that the International Monetary Fund encourages failing policies, and that countries like Argentina ends up paying the price. This crisis can teach important lessons, such as the growing need for reform of the IMF and the global financial system. (Straits Times)



Stiglitz on Globalization and Liberalization


2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003 | 2002

The Roaring Nineties: A New History of the World's Most Prosperous Decade (November 5, 2003)

In the 1990s, the US experienced one of the greatest economic expansions in its history. Yet this same period of "mega-growth" also sowed the seeds of its own collapse, argues Joseph Stiglitz. The US trusted too much in the market's self-regulatory efficiency, and therefore failed to get the right balance between the market and the government. (Carnegie Council on Ethics in International Affairs)

The Globalization Wars: An Economist Reports From the Front Lines (July/August 2002)

"Globalization and Its Discontents", Joseph Stiglitz's new book, "makes a compelling case that simple-minded economic doctrine, inadequately tailored to the realities of developing countries, can do more harm than good."(Foreign Affairs)


The Fall of Wall Street Is to Market Fundamentalism What the Fall of the Berlin Wall Was to Communism

The financial crisis on Wall Street – with major banks and financial institutions running to the government for help – marks an end to a market-oriented economic organization. Former World Bank Chief Economist Joseph Stiglitz proposes a new economic model with "speed bumps" to dampen expansions of assets, and a "financial product safety commission" to make credit safer. Stiglitz further urges world leaders to make the new economic model more comprehensible to the public than the collapsing system of economic liberalization. (Huffingtonpost)


New Warnings on FTAs

Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz warns that Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) do not benefit poor countries. By regulating intellectual property, the FTAs restrict countries' access to generic medicine, leading to the death of thousands of poor people from curable diseases. Stiglitz argues further that the FTAs threaten the sovereignty of poor countries whose governments may lose the ability to promote local businesses and to raise funds for development through taxes and tariffs. Countries such as the US are concerned not only with trade, but with promoting "a particular agenda." (Star Online)

Chairman's Summary: Shadow G-8 (February 9, 2007)

Joseph Stiglitz summarizes a discussion on "global growth with responsibility" by "a diverse group of concerned citizens from around the world," including leading economists and former government officials. The resulting consensus calls for a reformed G8 process which would enable participation from all countries "to discuss informally the major issues facing the world," with a focus on the four immediate problems of climate change, global imbalances, global governance, and poverty, especially in Africa. (Initiative for Policy Dialogue)


How to Fix the Global Economy (October 3, 2006)

World leaders increasingly agree on the unsustainable nature of the global financial imbalances represented by an enormous US trade deficit and China's growing trade surplus. Economics professor Joseph Stiglitz appreciates the growing attention given to the problem, but regrets that responses seem to address only symptoms rather than "the larger systemic problem." Stiglitz argues that neither a strengthening of the Chinese Yuan nor a cut in US governmental expenditures alone will solve the problem. Instead, expenditure cuts combined with increased upper-income taxes and reduced lower-income taxes in the US will create the necessary incentives. (New York Times)

Making Globalization Work (September 8, 2006)

Coinciding with the publication of his latest book, "Making Globalization Work," Nobel laureate and former World Bank chief economist Joseph Stiglitz in this Guardian article insists he does not oppose globalization, but rather agrees it "has enormous potential." However, Stiglitz argues that if governments wish to sustain globalization and avoid voters putting a stop to trade, they must manage it properly. Looking to the Scandinavian countries, Stiglitz asserts that by investing in education, research and strong social safety nets, governments can curb rising inequality and create more productive economies with higher living standards for all.

Arrested Development (August 10, 2006)

Given the "corrupt system of campaign-contributions-for-subsidies" in US politics, it came as no surprise that the Doha trade negotiations failed to produce the promised development agreement. In fact, former World Bank Chief Economist Joseph Stiglitz argues, poor countries feel relieved that they steered clear of a "development" agreement maintaining the status quo or making them worse off. World leaders must now avoid creating a myriad of unfair bilateral trade agreements. Particularly aiming at Europe, Stiglitz strongly appeals to governments not to follow the US example of unilateralism in the international trade system. (Guardian)

On Free Trade, Washington Is Trading Freely in Hypocrisy (July 11, 2006)

Economist Joseph Stiglitz questions the motives and effects of proposed US trade reforms in the Doha Round. Although the US conceded a 97 percent opening of its markets, Stiglitz proclaims that "the devil is in the details," since the remaining tariffs would pit the poor countries against each other and lead to a reduction in overall trade. Stiglitz warns that in the long run, the US may spur trade liberalizing countries to unify in opposition to US protectionist policies. (Daily Star)

Social Justice and Global Trade (March 2006)

This Far Eastern Economic Review article weighs the benefits of trade liberalization against the costs. While the WTO cites complete liberalization as a means towards achieving economic growth, trade agreements such as NAFTA demonstrate that it can have detrimental consequences on poor countries. Economist Joseph Stiglitz calls for a reformation of the WTO as an initial way to increase worldwide welfare.

Economists Say Cost of War Could Top $2 trillion (January 8, 2006)

According to economists Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes, cost estimates for the Iraq War have been vastly understated. While US congressional budget data estimates the war's cost at $500 billion through 2006, Stiglitz and Bilmes put the war's total cost at $2 trillion. Their detailed analysis includes long-term costs like ongoing healthcare for wounded troops and the war's related effects on investment, oil prices, and the growing US budget deficit. To view the report, click here. (Boston Globe)


Fair Trade for None (December 9, 2005)

The WTO Ministerial Conference in Hong Kong could be the last step of the Doha Development Round. According to economist Joseph Stiglitz, the Doha Round "does not deserve" to have the word "development" in its name. From the start of Doha negotiations, rich countries have gotten what they want, while doing "nothing for a decade" to meet poor countries' requests. Stiglitz warns that, this time, poor countries might not accept another unfair deal. (Project Syndacate)

The End of the Beginning of Ending Poverty (July 2005)

At the summit in Gleneagles, G8 governments approved a debt relief plan for the poorest nations. While international press has portrayed the debt relief deal as a great achievement, Nobel Price winner Joseph Stiglitz considers the decision only "a start." In addition, rich governments must increase their aid to poor countries and provide for "a fairer international trade regime." (Project Syndicate)

Global Green Trade (June 8, 2005)

Struggling to survive in the competitive global market, poor countries have resorted in the past to cutting down their virgin rainforests. Now faced with the challenge of global warming and rising carbon emissions, these countries, led by Costa Rica and Papua New Guinea, have proposed a way to reduce greenhouse emissions while promoting development. Joseph Stiglitz reports on why rich countries should take heed. (Project Syndicate)

Nobel Prize Winner Joseph Stiglitz Speaks on Globalization (April 11, 2005)

In his lecture at Hamilton College, economist Joseph Stiglitz touched upon the asymmetrical nature of globalization. As examples he mentioned rich nations' agricultural subsidies that create an uneven playing field for poor countries' exports, and intellectual property rights that can deprive poor countries of life-saving medicine and technology. Even in the United States that "has benefited enormously from globalization," only some people are experiencing the benefits, Stiglitz noted. (Hamilton College News)

Making Natural Resources into a Blessing Rather than a Curse (2005)

Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz calls for changes in both rich and poor countries' natural resource policy that deplete resources and marginalize citizens in the exporting country. Stiglitz argues that resource-rich countries should use money from resource extraction towards high return investments to further long term economic growth. Furthermore, Northern countries and the International Monetary Fund must stop the demand that countries privatize resources because profits then go to foreign firms. (Excerpt from Covering Oil: A Reporter's Guide to Energy and Development)


We Can Now Cure Dutch Disease (August 18, 2004)

Joseph Stiglitz comments on how to mitigate the "resource curse," whereby abundant natural wealth creates rich countries with poor people, and fuels wars and conflict. Stiglitz recommends such countries promote "democratic, consensual and transparent processes," take steps to combat currency appreciation, and use "stabilization funds" to reduce economic volatility linked to resource prices. He also calls on Western governments to implement "common-sense reforms," such as stopping massive arms sales to developing countries. (Guardian)

New Trade Pacts Betray the Poorest Partners (July 10, 2004)

Bilateral trade agreements boast increased wages and economic developments for poor countries, but rarely deliver on these promises. Morocco signed an agreement with the US, thereby liberalizing trade between the two countries, but Joseph Stiglitz warns that a host of complications, especially those concerning the use of generic drugs in the fight against AIDS, will follow. (New York Times)

The Broken Promise of NAFTA (January 6, 2004)

Joseph Stiglitz writes in the New York Times that the North American Free Trade Agreement remains "controversial and even harmful" for Mexico. NAFTA did not reduce income disparities between the US and Mexico, and it did not generate many concrete economic gains. Instead, it established "a new set of rights – for business – that potentially weakened democracy throughout North America."


Do as the US Does, Not as it Says (October 29, 2003)

Joseph Stiglitz urges poor countries not to listen to US sermons asking them to strive for "a mythical free-market economy." Instead, poor countries should learn from US history, and rely more on government intervention to develop financial markets and industrial power. (Guardian)

US Economic Folly Should Worry Us All (September 17, 2003)

Joseph Stiglitz says people should not gloat over President Bush's fiscal incompetence. After all, Bush's irresponsible tax cuts exacerbate the US trade deficit, which in turn could have serious repercussions on a global level. (Guardian)

The Way Ahead (September 9, 2003)

In this excerpt from "Globalization and Its Discontents," Joseph Stiglitz argues that globalization has worsened the conditions of millions of people. To make globalization work for all, international institutions must, in a transparent way, be more responsive to the poor, to the environment and to broader political and social concerns. (TomPaine)

Trade Imbalances (August 14, 2003)

Poor countries fear the Cancun negotiations will duplicate the undemocratic processes of former WTO rounds. Joseph Stiglitz presents a checklist to assess whether developed countries were sincere when they committed themselves to give up their trade interests for the sake of development. (Guardian)

Fair Play? Not Always In Fair-Trade Treaties (February 18, 2003)

Joseph Stiglitz criticizes the recent trade agreement between Chile and the US as displaying the old asymmetric exchange between the North and the South. Stiglitz particularly disapproves of the provision that aims at restricting Chile's use of capital controls for short-term speculative capital flows. Chile's capital control measures proved to be very effective in the 1990s. (The Nation)

The Way Ahead (September 9, 2003)

In this excerpt from "Globalization and Its Discontents," Joseph Stiglitz argues that globalization has worsened the conditions of millions of people. To make globalization work for all, international institutions must, in a transparent way, be more responsive to the poor, to the environment and to broader political and social concerns. (TomPaine)


There Is No Invisible Hand (December 20, 2002)

Economist Joseph Stiglitz lauds this year's Nobel laureates in economics for demonstrating what comes as no big shock to ordinary observers of market behavior: people don't behave rationally. In fact, he argues, the bubble economy in the US was based on "exploiting investor psychology." (The Guardian)

Latin America's Unlikely Revolutionary Folk Hero (October 10, 2002)

Joseph Stiglitz's book Globalization and Its Discontents has become wildly popular in Latin America where many people blame IMF-led liberalization policies for unemployment, hyperinflation, and recession. (Christian Science Monitor)

Social Sustainability Key Earth Summit Topic (August 21, 2002)

Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz on sustainable development, poverty, and the developed countries' hypocrisy about free trade promotion. (Daily Yomiuri)

Single Economic Model Does Not Suit Whole World (July 24, 2002)

"Globalization today is not working for many of the world's poor", says Joseph Stiglitz, who offers several suggestions, including improved safety nets in developing countries. Globalization, with its many benefits, should not be abandoned; however, it must be managed properly he says. (The Times)

Protectionism Made in the USA (April 2002)

Joseph Stiglitz discusses how the US applies double standards in terms of international trade, globalization and fiscal policy. (Project Syndicate)

Global Greenbacks (March 22, 2002)

Joseph Stiglitz discusses a new form of global money that would release the pressure on developing countries to hold reserves in US dollars and Treasury bills. (Economic Times)

Globalism's Discontents (January 14, 2002)

Joseph Stiglitz discusses the pros and cons of globalization, and calls for social justice. He argues that successful globalizing countries determine their own pace of change, share the benefits equitably and reject the basics of the "Washington Consensus". (American Prospect)


The Globalizer Who Came In From the Cold (October 10, 2001)

An article based on former Senior Vice President of the World Bank and Nobel Prize winner 2001 Joe Stiglitz's knowledge of the Bank and the IMF's "poverty reduction strategy". A one-size-fits-all strategy, which in fact "undermines democracy" and does more harm than good. (Observer)


What I Learned at the World Economic Crisis (April 6, 2000)

Former World Bank Chief Economist Joseph Stiglitz, explains concisely why protestors in Washington have legitimate reasons for accusing the IMF and others of irresponsible development policy. (New Republic)


Links and Resources

The World Bank's Page on Stiglitz

Speeches and essays made during his time at the World Bank are available here.



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