6 key takeaways from Joseph Stiglitz’s National Press Club Address

Why would the IMF put dealing with inequality at the centre of their economic agenda? Professor Joseph Stiglitz explains in his National Press Club Address.

Professor Joseph Stiglitz. (photo: Sasha Maslov)

1 // Progressive economics make more equal societies.

“Why would an institution like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) put dealing with inequality at the centre of their economic agenda?” asks Professor Joseph Stiglitz, speaking to the National Press Club in Canberra.

2 // Government has rewritten the rules of the labour market over the last generation, that’s why wages are going nowhere.

“We changed labour relations law to make it more difficult for unionisation, to make it more difficult for industry-wide collective bargaining. And when you change the laws, if you don’t have any collective voice for workers, obviously workers are not going to do as well. They have not been doing very well. It was predicted and it’s now happened,” says Stiglitz.

Workers need bargaining power to translate economic growth into higher living standards.

“The economy is supposed to be helping increase people’s living standards and part of living standards is enjoying leisure. Having a life where you don’t get the same time off that everybody else does is really interfering with your wellbeing. And if you have to work on a Sunday, you should get compensated.

3 // We need collectivism to tackle climate change.

“We are individuals — and it’s important to encourage individual initiative. But also, we are a collective,” says Stiglitz.

4 // The first step of corporate responsibility is paying your taxes.

“Taxes are a necessary part of our working together as a society. But one of the things that corporations have excelled in, used their intelligence in, is to avoid paying taxes,” says Stiglitz.

5 // For the last 40 years, benefits of economic growth have flowed predominantly to the top.

“Markets don’t exist in a vacuum. They have to be structured. They’re structured by rules and regulations. By a whole set of legal frameworks, from labour laws to tax laws, expenditure policies and monetary policies,”

6 // Our truth-telling institutions are essential to the future of democracy.

“Demagogues like Orban in Hungary, and Trump in the United States, are systematically trying to destroy all of our truth-telling institutions: the media, the judiciary, our universities,” says Stiglitz.