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Opinion

Stiglitz takes on the globalizers

       

For such an original thinker, Joseph Stiglitz's latest book, Globalization and its Discontents, has a desperately unoriginal title. But you mustn't let the fact that amazon.com offers three other works with that title put you off reading this one. For Stiglitz has produced the first genuinely authoritative and compelling argument that globalization, at least as practised by the IMF and the World Trade Organization, is actually a bad thing for precisely those developing countries the multilateral organizations are meant to be trying to help.

Stiglitz, chief economist of the World Bank throughout most of the emerging-market crises of the late 1990s and winner of the 2001 Nobel Prize in Economics, can't be dismissed as a utopian anarchist or Marxist ideologue. In fact, he makes a compelling case that the really dangerous ideology these days is that of the IMF: the dogma, unsupported by evidence, that financial market liberalization, combined with fiscal and monetary austerity, will help all emerging-market economies.

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