Stiglitz on economy: ‘terrible’

When things go wrong, everyone looks for someone to blame.  And when the economy goes wrong, eyes start falling on politicians and bankers.  At least in the case of bankers we should not have been surprised by their actions and inactions in the financial crisis—they just acted how they have always acted.  That is what Joseph Stiglitz thinks, anyway—a Nobel Laureate and former chief economist at the World Bank.  WRS’s Tony Ganzer reports.

Sometimes the simplest questions illicit the simplest, and clearest answers.  So when I asked Joseph Stiglitz how bad the economy is for the working-class all over the world, he kept it simple:

STIGLITZ:  “Terrible.”

Well, he added that unemployment numbers were high, and the poverty rate in the US is up, but even without those qualifiers his view was clear.  The financial crisis is still unsettling investors and markets worldwide, and at least some of the problems could have been solved earlier.  Stiglitz says bankers have acted and reacted more or less in predictable ways through many crises, the great depression being one, but learning from the past cannot always overcome arrogance.


Regulation seems to be a necessary factor in stable markets, according to Stiglitz—a view opposed by many of the policy makers and regulators in the US preceding and following the housing bubble’s burst.  Recent moves to add international regulatory measures, like those by the Basel committee, or talks of arbitration by the G20, hold promise, but are not enough to stem problems, especially when nations will ultimately write their own rules.


Regulatory reforms aside, Stiglitz does see promise in moving more into green technologies and green economies.  He agrees with the common line from politicians equating good environmental policy to good economic policy, because he says we don’t yet know how expensive damaging the environment really is.


Stiglitz has been a staunch critic of the handling of the financial crisis, saying central banks were using models and theories that had little or no basis in economic reality.  The best bet now, he says, is better and effective regulation.

Burns Alumni Newsletter, Oslo

I was fortunate enough to be able to write this article for the Arthur Burns Fellowship alumni newsletter.  To see the whole newsletter click here.  (Opens in a new window.)  For just my article, keep reading…

The transformation of sleepy Oslo to fortified Nobel host city was tangible. There was anxiety on the sidewalks as citizens walked carefully by concrete barricades, policemen with machine guns and bomb-sniffing dogs—all in place for the arriving VIPs.  Even manhole covers were welded shut as a security measure—the official sign that a U.S. president is or has been to a city.

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Peace Prize: Recap and Final Thoughts

As a journalist I like to think my view on life is influenced by a variety of sources, ideally giving me enough information to responsibly and accurately inform my audience.  Experiencing something first-hand is often one of the most powerful ways to report a story.  As I sat on the streets of Oslo after President Obama had left, I drank an apple juice, and watched life continue as before the Nobel ceremony, the reality of the previous 2 days set in—I had witnessed something truly historic…for better or worse.

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Audio: Barack Obama Awarded Peace Prize


In Oslo, Norway today President Barack Obama accepted the Nobel Peace Prize.  His acceptance comes on the heels of Mr. Obama’s still controversial nomination by the Nobel committee, awarding the prize to a world leader whose country is still fighting two wars.  The normally sleepy city of Oslo turned overnight into the frontline of a debate over war and peace.  From Oslo, Tony Ganzer reports.

TG:  Though the bells from Oslo City Hall rang a familiar sound, the city streets were drastically changed for the arrival of Mr. Obama.  Chain link fences, concrete barricades and police with machine guns lined most streets.  Even before Mr. Obama arrived in Norway Greenpeace began handing out fliers urging Mr. Obama’s action on climate change.  But in his acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize Mr. Obama spoke directly to the criticism of his award.

Obama: …my accomplishments are slight“ :20

Mr. Obama listening to his introduction during the peace prize ceremony.

TG:  Mr. Obama’s peace prize was awarded for his efforts on climate change, nuclear proliferation and diplomacy, according to the Nobel committee.  This prize has attracted increasing attention in recent days after Mr. Obama announced 30-thousand more American troops would be deployed to Afghanistan.  Though Mr. Obama underscored his support for diplomatic solutions to conflicts, he defended the option of armed conflict.

Obama:  …and the strength of our arms“

TG:  Mr. Obama and first lady Michelle Obama appeared briefly after the ceremony to wave from their hotel balcony at a crowd.  A mixed group of demonstrators with varied interests gathered nearby, holding signs urging an end to the war in Afghanistan, and US action on climate change, among other things.  Mr. Obama will leave Oslo tomorrow morning, after spending just 26 hours in the country.

From Oslo, I’m Tony Ganzer reporting.

Photos: Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony

To Oslo for Peace…

By Night

 President Obama isn’t here yet, but the city is breathing anticipation–not all of it positive.  For 99 Norwegian Crowns one can buy an Obama t-shirt with “Hope” across the bottom, and for 0 Crowns one can enjoy Greenpeace’s characteristically aggressive campaigning for environmental issues.

So in just a few hours the President will board Air Force One and begin his 26 hours in Oslo, to accept a controversial and arguably confusing peace prize, just days after ordering the deployment of 30-thousand more American troops to Afghanistan.  This is an uncomfortable time; an insecure time; and this is the time in which we live.

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