Festival Talk- an hour with Joesph Stiglitz

Every second year in Wellington, an Arts Festival of great magnitude is unleashed. It’s quite a spectacular event as acts from all over the world in Theater, Dance, Music, Art and Literature are asked to come and perform/speak in New Zealand. As NZ’s remote location makes it expensive to travel to and from, this festival is a great opportunity to see what’s hot in the performing arts arena in the rest of the world.

As part of the Readers/Writers’ week- the festival brought over Joesph Stiglitz to speak. Dr. Stiglitz is a very big brain. He’s a 2001 noble prize winner, former head of The World Bank, former Chairman on Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisers and current professor at Columbia University and an accomplished author.

I wasn’t a fan of the format of the talk because he was being interviewed by a journalist who was unable to offer pure Q&A without giving his own journalistic spin/opinion on each topic. However, I did enjoy the content.

A couple things that stuck out from this talk were:

  • Stiglitz is a democrat
  • GDP as a current measurement tool is ultimately flawed
  • The USA have a great GDP- one reason behind this is that they have the most people in prison per capita. This means that there is less unemployment because people are being paid to build prisons and the individuals who may otherwise be unemployed are in prison. What does this say about the economy?
  • Countries need to invest money in their children, health and infrastructure if they want to be sustainable
  • Gloabalisation is not all good
  • The American government is propping up their fragile economy until the election in November
  • The world will feel the impact of the slowing US economy. China will use this time to take a breather from its constant growth
  • It is a failure of Reserve Banks to only measure inflation as they should also be considering unemployment
  • Government does have a role to play in markets; regulation is important to prevent corruption
  • To prevent the inflation of the housing boom- how about tax a little less on wages and more on housing capital gains- which he believes mostly comes from luck
  • The developed world needs to re-think the way they live because if India and China become such huge consumers, the planet will not survive. We have the resources and technology to test ways to improve the planet- we should be doing it now

I am not sure if a copy of this presentation will be online, but I’ll post it if I find it. In the meantime, if you are interested in hearing more from Dr. Stiglitz- here’s a link to an interview he did with Carnegie Council.

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