The world-famous economist has been busy. Joseph Stiglitz arrives for our interview in Berlin with two of his new books under one arm, and a 120-page text, “Rewriting the Rules of the American Economy,” under the other. The 73-year-old economist hopes the latter will serve as a blueprint for the next U.S. president.
Joseph Stiglitz is one of the the most vocal critics of austerity, and nothing he has seen in recent months has made him change his mind. A recent dinner meeting with German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble, one of the world’s most vocal policymakers when it comes to pushing countries to balance their budgets and towing a hard line in the recent Greek crisis, left him unconvinced.
Mr. Stiglitz spoke with Handelsblatt about how the Troika of international creditors is not helping Greece, why unemployment in the United States is higher than many believe, and why the Federal Reserve shouldn’t raise interest rates this week.
Handelsblatt: Professor Stiglitz, recently after a dinner meeting with Wolfgang Schäuble, Germany’s finance minister, you said you felt sorry for the Greeks, especially after having met Mr. Schäuble. What went wrong?
Joseph Stiglitz: Nothing went wrong, it’s just that he’s not an economist so he doesn’t approach the problems in the way that an economist would. He thinks legalistically.
Is that a bad thing?
An economist would understand that austerity kills. Almost always. That the primary surplus they have scheduled for Greece will extend and deepen the depression.