Tags: Stiglitz | economic | policy | politics

Stiglitz: The Biggest Economic Problem Is 'Our Stupid Politics'

By    |   Tuesday, 20 January 2015 05:24 PM

Economies outside the United States are suffering mightily, and even here, wage growth is miniscule.

So what's the problem?

"The near-global stagnation witnessed in 2014 is man-made. It is the result of politics and policies in several major economies — politics and policies that choked off demand," Nobel laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz of Columbia University writes in an article for Project Syndicate.

"In the absence of demand, investment and jobs will fail to materialize. It is that simple."

In many economies, including our own, the onus is being put on monetary policy. But it can't do the job alone, Stiglitz argues.

Low interests rates can't make companies invest if there is no demand for their products, and they can't make consumers spend if they are anxious about their future, he contends.

"What monetary policy can do is create asset-price bubbles," Stiglitz notes.

"Demand is what the world needs most."

So how to create demand? "The private sector — even with the generous support of monetary authorities — will not supply it. But fiscal policy can," Stiglitz writes. "The big problem facing the world in 2015 is not economic. The problem is our stupid politics."

Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers says one area where U.S. fiscal spending should be increased is infrastructure. He has several ideas of going about it.

"First, the focus of infrastructure discussions in both the public and the private sector needs to shift from major new projects whose initiation and completion can be the occasion for grand celebration to more prosaic issues of upkeep, maintenance and project implementation," Summers writes in the Financial Times.

For example, repair of existing rail line and stations ought to be considered before embarking on high-speed railway systems.

"Second, accountants in the public and private sector need to develop methodologies for capturing deferred maintenance and showing this in the financial accounts for what it is — borrowing from the future," Summers says.

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Economies outside the United States are suffering mightily, and even here, wage growth is miniscule. So what's the problem?
Stiglitz, economic, policy, politics
Tuesday, 20 January 2015 05:24 PM
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