Joseph Stiglitz Expresses Concern About the Future of Democracy; Warns What Happens in U.S. Could Happen Elsewhere

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Columbia University Prof. Joseph Stiglitz speaks at a lecture organized by the Yomiuri International Economic Society in Tokyo on Wednesday.

Columbia University Prof. Joseph Stiglitz said in a speech in Tokyo on Wednesday that depending on the outcome of the U.S. presidential election scheduled for November, “The rest of the world will have to figure out how to work without that kind of leadership [of democracy].”

He added, “The U.S. will continue to have under Trump or Biden a strong movement away from globalization. An anti-China policy will be a central part of foreign policy and economic policy. Both will continue with industrial policies,” said the Nobel Prize laureate in economics, who served as a chairman of the U.S. Council of Economic Advisers during the Bill Clinton administration. “The difference [between Trump and Biden] is the strong belief in democracy, and all that that it entails.”

Stiglitz, who spoke Wednesday on “Rethinking Capitalism and the Market Economy” at a lecture organized by the Yomiuri International Economic Society, said that the U.S. and other governments have pursued policies based on neoliberal capitalist thinking, such as deregulation and free-market economics, which have led to slower economic growth, widening inequality, and an unstable economy. He also pointed out that “Japan standing as one of the most equal countries is weakening and it’s now the 10th most unequal country in the advanced world.”

He also said, “The extremes of inequality have provided a fertile field for demagogues and right-wing populism, which you see in the extreme form in the U.S. What has happened in the U.S. is a warning of what could happen elsewhere.”

With the rise of common global challenges such as climate change and aging, Stiglitz said, “What is needed is a more concerted and comprehensive change in our economic, political and social system,” arguing that the government should increase its role in society by introducing appropriate regulations and competition rules under the concepts of so-called progressive capitalism or new capitalism.