Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz lectured to a nearly sold-out crowd in Campbell Hall yesterday evening about the inadequacies of globalization and his suggested reforms.
Stiglitz is the author of two books on the subject, Globalization and its Discontent, and Making Globalization Work. He won the Nobel Prize in economics for his research on markets with asymmetric information, and is a professor at Columbia University in New York. He has also taught at Yale, Princeton, Stanford , Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Oxford.
Stiglitz’s lecture was part of UCSB’s Arts & Lectures series, and was sponsored in part by the Global Studies Dept.
Professor Richard Appelbaum, director of the master’s program in global studies, introduced Stiglitz to the crowd by saying that there are both moral and fiscal reasons to cure the world’s economic disparities.
Stiglitz opened his speech with a laundry list of grievances against the current state of globalization, including the growing economic gaps between industrialized and developing nations. He went on to note that trade favored industrialized nations in the 1990s during what he calls the “decade of globalization.”
“Many of the world’s poorest countries are actually worse off as a result of globalization,” Stiglitz said.
He used the North American Free Trade Agreement as an example of what he said often goes wrong with globalization.
“If it were truly a free trade agreement, the document would only be a couple of pages,” Stiglitz said. “Instead it is thousands of pages of special interest haggling.”
Stiglitz then said that there is rarely a fair trade agreement that is fair, one in which an industrialized nation does not get advantageous terms over a developing country.
“Too often, notions of social justice seem to stop at the border,” Stiglitz said.
Stiglitz suggested reforms to global laws on intellectual property, which he said are often a bad match for a developing country. Intellectual property, Stiglitz said, has zero marginal cost, which means that it is free for an additional person to use it, unlike a vehicle or a loaf of bread.
“Intellectual property introduces inefficiency in economy,” Stiglitz said. “While only one person can sit in a chair, everyone can have knowledge.”
In a personal side note, Stiglitz said he experienced the troubling implications of intellectual property rights when he was asked by a Chinese publisher to write a preface for a pirated copy of his book.
Stiglitz also commented on the world’s inability to come to a consensus on global warming, and its implications for globalization.
“Our failure to reach an agreement on global warming exemplifies the problems of global agreements,” Stiglitz said.
Stiglitz concluded the lecture by offering encouraging words about the future of globalization, saying that it can be made to work and offer a promising future for the world.
Appelbaum, who included Stiglitz’s Making Globalization Work as a required text in his Global 130 class on global political economy and development, said the economist’s work is required reading because he is a celebrated author who understands globalization.
“His book has sold over a million copies and he has been translated into over 35 different languages,” Appelbaum said.
Amberjea Freeman, a graduate student in the Global Studies Dept., said she attended the lecture because she was a genuine believer in the ideas put forth by Stiglitz.
“I like what he has to say because he is a realist, and has a good perspective,” Freeman said.