Joseph Stiglitz: Is Capitalism Working?

About four years ago, Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz was attending his 55th high school reunion in Gary, IN, when he heard a story that made him stand up straight. Then he heard another. And another.

These classmates’ stories – about themselves and their families – brought to life the statistics Stiglitz had been seeing in his economic charts: Lost jobs, poor access to health care, shorter life spans, crumbling infrastructure, lost opportunity, waning hope. The numbers hadn’t lied, and now they were talking to Stiglitz at this gathering with old friends.

Their message: The economy was broken. In fact, more than just the economy wasn’t working – Capitalism itself seemed off.

From his current and past work, Stiglitz knew the causes: Exploitation & market power; mismanagement of globalization; a deregulated financial sector that helped lead to the Great Recession; new technologies that threatened even more job displacement; the growing difference between wealth creation and wealth extraction.

Following that class reunion, Stiglitz further saw an erosion of society’s pillars, and – being an economist – connected them all: The economy, capitalism, and democracy. He decided to sound the alarm, and the result is his new, powerful book: “People, Power, and Profits: Progressive Capitalism for an Age of Discontent.”

Stiglitz has written a definitive economic (and political) blue print for these times – a detailed agenda he calls Progressive Capitalism. “We have to,” he says, “save capitalism from itself.” I was excited to explore the ideas with him and the conversation didn’t disappoint.

About Joe Stiglitz: Beyond the Nobel Prize, he has earned enough awards to be their own podcast. Just one early example: the John Bates Clark Medal in 1979, awarded by the American Economic Association to the "American economist under the age of 40 who is adjudged to have made a significant contribution to economic thought and knowledge.” Among his career highlights: He served as President Clinton’s Chair of the US Council of Economic Advisers, Chief Economist of the World Bank. He’s the best-selling author of more than 10 books and today is a University Professor at Columbia University.

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