Joseph E. Stiglitz. Globalization and Its Discontents. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2003.
Globalization and Its Discontents is an incredibly easy read that provides remarkable insight to some of the world largest public institutions. Joseph E. Stiglitz takes the reader on a journey into this world via his own personal experiences as the chief economist at the World Bank in the 1990s. He draws on examples from the East Asia crisis, the transition from command to market economy in Russia, as well as Latin America to support his argument for change in global public institutions. At first glance, it would be expected that the piece would focus entirely on globalization and the potential problems that are experienced from
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The strongest argument that Stiglitz makes is two-fold: A “one-size-fits-all” solution is ineffective when dealing with diverse developing countries and that institutions such as the IMF which are considered public institutions are seemingly very private in the conduct of their business. His view on “stabilization, privatization and liberalization” policies that are taken from the same mould and applied universally, regardless of diverse economic, social and political fabric of developing countries, are doomed for failure. He advocates for representatives of global institutions to not only spend time in the countries facing a crisis, but to involve that nation’s political leaders and economists. In doing so, a structured and gradual formula can be tailor-made to suit the nation and its specific needs. Stiglitz argues that participation by citizens of developing nations is also mandatory because IMF policies implemented have a direct effect on employment (or lack thereof) and social capital. He rightfully contends that so much “business” of the IMF goes on behind closed doors and is veiled in secrecy. A public institution that has a responsibility to eradicate poverty, should also have a responsibility to include those who are most affected by any policy prescriptions that may be imposed. Without accountability to those who the IMF is charged with the responsibility of helping, it reeks of colonialism