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The following article appeared in Left Business Observer #102, September 2002. It retains its copyright and may not be reprinted or redistributed in any form - print, electronic, facsimile, anything - without the permission of LBO.


Stiglitz: time to snuff the IMF?

This is an edited version of an interview with Joseph Stiglitz, conducted by Doug Henwood on his weekly radio show on WBAI, New York, August 15, 2002. The full show is available on this website.

Stiglitz, who shared the 2001 Nobel prize, is widely regarded as one of the leading economists of his generation. He recently moved from Stanford to Columbia, where he now teaches and runs a think tank. Much of his academic work is highly theoretical, but he's had plenty of real-world experience: at Clinton's Council of Economic Advisors, then as chief economist of the World Bank. In the late 1990s, he made headlines for harsh public criticisms of the IMF (and implicitly the U.S. Treasury, which dominates the IMF). He was eventually squeezed out under orders from Treasury Secretary Larry "Africa is Vastly Underpolluted" Summers. He writes about his experience in a recent book, Globalization and Its Discontents.

It must be said that Stiglitz largely spares the World Bank from criticism, which requires overlooking their complicity in promoting structural adjustment along with financially burdensome and ecologically destructive megaprojects. But to have someone of his stature talk in favor of dismantling the IMF - a change from his earlier reform-it position - is excellent political news.