Global warrior

Economist turned activist, Joseph Stiglitz speaks up for developing countries in their fight against the forces of globalisation.

by Steve Lodge, World Business

Among globalisation's many critics, Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz stands out as an expert insider turned whistleblower. World Bank chief economist until 2000, he was also an economic adviser to Bill Clinton's presidency in the 1990s and is tipped as a possible adviser to Hillary Clinton should she also become president. After resigning his World Bank post, Stiglitz wrote the international bestseller, Globalisation and Its Discontents. Described as an expose of Western trade hypocrisy and "market fundamentalism", the book attacked the IMF for worsening crises in Asia and elsewhere with economic shock therapies. Stiglitz's new book, Making Globalisation Work, develops his manifesto for improving a world economic system. Dubbed the "poster boy of the anti-poverty movement" by one interviewer and, less kindly, an "artist of the impossible" by the Economist, he describes himself as an "activist academic". Currently professor of finance and economics at Columbia University, he has also founded a think-tank - the Initiative for Policy Dialogue - to help developing countries explore policy alternatives.

WB: Why do you think globalisation isn't working?

Joseph Stiglitz: There is the fact that there are so many crises, particularly in the developing world. This isn't about just one or two countries, but tens of nations winding up with debt beyond their ability to pay. We would expect more convergence: poor countries should be catching up. There are some - India and China, for example - but there's another very large tranche of countries where we don't see convergence. Even in advanced countries, there are problems with people at the bottom.

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