It was widely accepted that the current economic framework which was predicated on the belief that lowering taxes, liberalization, financial globalization and trade liberalization would lead to faster economic growth and to increase everybody's well being. However, peopleare now realized that those ideas were wrong. To be more specifically, the world today is facing a confluence of several problems and many of which are interrelated. Those are some real challenges that so far our political system has not been able to address effectively. These days the economic growth has been slower and less stable, just as the same situation evidenced by the 2008 and 2009 financial crisis. Because the fruits of what limited economic growth were not widely shared, consequently, large fractions of the population saw their incomes stagnated or even decline. This may even socially or politically hurt the sustainability of the whole world. Nowadays, people can see it in the growing inequality, the problems of climate change and so on. They even worry about whether human beings will be able to create enough jobs with robotization. In other words, the challenges are far more serious than we previously thought.
One of the fundamental fallacies was a notion called trickle down economics, which was never really a part of a standard economic theory. Unfortunately, it became a key idea of economic policy formation in banks and countries in many developing countries. The main idea of this theory was that everybody will be benefited only if the economy was in growth statement and we know that is not true. Some people may hold there were corollaries of this notion that globalization would itself lead to the growth of economies so that everybody would be better off. In fact, the economic theory was much more qualified in its endorsement of free trade. For instance, once I showed that if risk markets were imperfect, there would be lots of increasing risks for trade globalization. Consequently, everybody around the world could be worse off. Most importantly, before liberalizing, a country ought to think about making sure the market is working well.
Another example ,which was well known but yet not talked about by policy makers, was the fact that job destruction could occur faster than job creation. That would be particularly true if capital markets didn't work well, and it seems like they never were perfect. There was an important role for government to both facilitate job creation and help peoplemove from the jobs that were being destroyed to the new jobs that were being created. Interestingly, particularly in countries like the United States, those who were pushing for liberalization, said the republican party at the same time opposed assistance that would have helped people make the adjustment. Actually,everybody could be worse off or growth could be hindered in the absence of that.
Today much of what the criticism is that what was known was not emphasized. For instance, one of the most important contributions in our understanding of trade were a series of theorems claimed by Paul Samuelson and some of his associates. The theorems show that in advance countries, liberalization and trade globalization would lower the incomes ofunskilled workers. However, no one even mentioned this when they were pushing for trade globalization. Although those were arcane theories, they didn't even explain what was wrong with the theories. In fact, it turned out that those theories are no more than a grain of truths. Certainly, there existed a wholeset of other fallacies of that were not based on modern economic science as well. The reason why they were widely held was mainly because that people were using simplistic models when explaining economic scenarios.
The last example is that markets are efficient. One of my contributions to economics with my colleague Bruce Greenwald was that we found whenever information was imperfect asymmetry or risk markets were incomplete, the markets are not always in general efficient. We have known that markets are neither efficient nor stable, yet policy makers and many economists have always said that "economics taught us that markets were always efficient and stable."
Once I wrote a book called 《Globalization and its Discontents》, based on what I've seen as chief economist of the World Bank, suggesting that the discontent for one sows globalization in the developing countries and emerging markets was in fact justified. Now we heard from Trump and protectionists inAmerica that globalization was unfair to the United States. How can globalization be bad for developing emerging countries and even for the United States? If everybody is against it, why is globalization still proceeding as it was? The simple answer was a corporate agenda. It was an agenda that had the effect of lowering wages in the United States, which did help many people move out of poverty in the developing countries, but yet driven mainly by the desires to increase profits. We can see it clearly when looking at the intellectual property agenda, which has increased the profits of big pharma at the expense of access to life saving medicines all over the world. One of the reasons that globalization has not worked as well as it should have worked is that the rules governing globalization have been written to benefit the corporate interests. We need to rewrite the rules of globalization. For instance, rewriting the rules of global trade in ways that can work for the advantage of citizens.
Personally speaking, I think one approach to solve the discontents toward globalization is an idea that has been put forward, which is called globalization with compensation or globalization with somesocial protection. That's clearly necessary since governments didn't provide the social protection that they should have provided to people. But politically that is no longer credible, for people don't really feel confident that, no matter what we say, the social protection will actually be provided. When the republicans get in power, they will cut back those kinds of social protections that have been put forward under the democratic system. If we really want to have sustained economic growth based on globalization and get ready of welcoming oftechnical change that can threaten jobs, we have to have a deeper reform in oureconomic system. That is, make a new social contract that ensures the growth isinclusive, and the world can share its prosperity. So it has to be much more fundamentally wired into the way our economic system works.
约瑟夫·斯蒂格利茨，美国经济学家，美国哥伦比亚大学校级教授（University Professor），哥伦比亚大学政策对话倡议组织（Initiativefor Policy Dialogue）主席。他于1979年获得约翰·贝茨·克拉克奖（John BatesClark Medal），2001年获得诺贝尔经济学奖，他的重要贡献使得IPCC获得2007年诺贝尔和平奖。1993年至1997年，美国总统经济顾问委员会成员及主席，1997年至1999年，任世界银行资深副行长兼首席经济学家。2011至2014年，任国际经济学协会主席。