Globalization’s Mad Scientist: On Joseph Stiglitz

Mark Engler in Dissent:

StiglihzStiglitz has always been intellectually combative, but that he would become a political renegade was not clear early in his prodigious career. He trained at M.I.T. in the early sixties. By 1970, when he turned twenty-seven, he was a full professor at Yale. He made his mark with groundbreaking research on the economics of information. Subsequently moving between teaching jobs at outposts such as Stanford and Princeton, he was long considered a contender for a Nobel Prize in economics, which he would ultimately win in 2001. When Bill Clinton took office, Stiglitz joined the Council of Economic Advisors, serving as its chair from 1995 to 1997. He then moved into dealing with international policy at the Bank.

The strident criticisms of the IMF that Stiglitz began voicing during his time in office took many Beltway observers by surprise. In recent years there have been some tensions between the stern neoliberal taskmasters who staff the IMF and the somewhat softer, at times reform-minded economists at the World Bank. General agreement about policy prevails, however; differences are usually sorted out in private; and broadsides from high-ranking officials are unheard of.

In this context, some have tried to portray Stiglitz as a spy who defected across enemy lines, going public with his secrets in a tormented effort to end his complicity in an evil ideology.

More here.