The Roaring Nineties


| November 4, 2002


The Roaring Nineties, Joseph Stiglitz, Atlantic Monthly
Joseph Stiglitz recounts the country's economic roller coaster ride over the last three presidencies. As former chief economist and senior vice-president of the World Bank and chairman on the Council of Economic Advisers, Stiglitz has witnessed first-hand the strengths and weaknesses of the economic system employed by the U.S. and the developed world. He notes that some historic mistakes are easily understood, like how excessive deregulation and unsound accounting practices led to the savings-and-loan scandal of '91. And he explains how decades of investment in computers and technology, Alan Greenspan's slow hand to raise the interest rate even amidst fears of inflation, and Clinton's attacks on the federal budget deficit during a downturn, played an immense roll in the boom of the late '90s. Stiglitz goes on to provide a bird's-eye view of the current economic turbulence while it's still unfolding. In the case of Enron and Global Crossing, he blames misleading accounting practices and tax incentives that encourage companies to reward their executives with stock options rather then incentives that could contribute to the companies long-term performance. While Stiglitz concedes that the attack on American-style globalization may be driven by Luddites and protectionists, he emphasizes that it's fed by a perception of American hypocrisy and the unfairness of the new global regime.
--Nick Garafola
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