In this week’s Acton Commentary, I review a new book by economist Joseph E. Stiglitz, Freefall: America, Free Markets, and the Sinking of the World Economy. Text follows:
A rare growth industry following the 2008 financial crisis has been financial crisis commentaries. An apparently endless stream of books and articles from assorted pundits and scholars continues to explain what went wrong and how to fix our present problems.
In this context, it was almost inevitable that one Joseph E. Stiglitz would enter the fray of finger-pointing and policy-offerings. As a Nobel Prize economist, former World Bank chief economist, former Chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisors, and member of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, it would be surprising if he had nothing to say.
Moreover Stiglitz has assumed the role of social-democrat-public-intellectual-in-chief since his door-slamming departure from the World Bank in 1999. From this standpoint, Stiglitz opines about, well, pretty much everything. He also increasingly labels anyone disagreeing with him as a “market fundamentalist” or “conservative journalist.”
Yet despite his iconoclastic reputation, Stiglitz reveals himself in his latest offering, Freefall: America, Free Markets, and the Sinking of the World Economy, as a rather conventional Keynesian-inclined economist who, like most Keynesian-inclined economists, thinks everything went wrong in the early 1980s. (more…)