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Updated: January 10, 2014 00:23 IST

‘If India is corrupt, U.S. is a good competitor’

Special Correspondent
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Joseph E. Stiglitz says the American-style capitalism is clearly not working, with clearly widening inequality. Photo: K. Gopinathan
Joseph E. Stiglitz says the American-style capitalism is clearly not working, with clearly widening inequality. Photo: K. Gopinathan

America’s growth story has been anti-poor : Nobel laureate

To say that India’s corruption is “extraordinary” is a “comparative statement”, said Joseph E. Stiglitz, professor at Columbia University and winner of the Nobel Prize for Economics. “I would say that the United States of America is a good competitor for the title.”

While India’s corruption cannot be “underestimated”, the U.S., he said, “is equally corrupt in its own style.” Whether it is the drug industry’s infamous stranglehold over the government, Walmart’s lobbying activities, or indeed the current crisis in the financial sector, “corruption is rife” and particularly so in the corporate sector, Prof. Stiglitz said at an interaction with the media on Thursday at the Indian Institute of Science.

“It would be nice if everyone was honest but that is not what we are. We have to design economic systems that build in checks and balances and that are inherently transparent,” he said.

The impact of corruption in India cannot, however, be underestimated. The telecom scam and the coal scam, for instance, have dented people’s confidence in the government. “But solving corruption does not necessarily lead to economic growth.”

‘U.S. anti-poor’

It is ironic, said Prof. Stiglitz, that although the American-style capitalism is clearly not working, with clearly widening inequality, “this is what the world emulates”. The U.S.’s growth story has been “anti-poor and anti-middleclass,” Prof. Stiglitz said.

“The view that privatisation will increase efficiency has been discredited. Trickle-down economies have been discredited, neo-liberal policies have been discredited, and the 2008 crisis was empirical validation of this,” said Prof. Stiglitz.

“Bill Gates is doing well but that doesn’t mean the United State of America is. It is a trickle up economy.” The median income of a full-time male worker in the U.S. is less than what it used to be four decades ago, and one in seven people looking for a full-time job do not get one, Prof. Stiglitz said at lecture he delivered on “Globalisation, Structural Change and Inequality” at I.I.Sc., organised by Azim Premji University.

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