Stiglitz Says Misdirected Monetary Policies Increased Inequality

Stiglitz: U.S. Economy 'Not Delivering' for Many
  • Key problem is credit for small, medium firms: Nobel laureate
  • Columbia's Stiglitz speaks in Bloomerg Television interview

Nobel-prize winner Joseph Stiglitz said monetary policies have exacerbated inequality and need to be redirected to better target getting money flowing into economies and helping small and medium-size businesses.

In a Bloomberg Television interview Tuesday with Francine Lacqua and Michael McKee in New York, he said policies such as quantitative easing were a “version of trickle-down economics” and the subsequent increase in asset prices only affected the wealthiest in society.

Joseph Stiglitz
Joseph Stiglitz
Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

“The key problem is the access of credit to small and medium-size enterprises, is getting that flow of money into the real economy,” Stiglitz said. It’s “nice to have a stock market bubble if you have a lot of stock. But if you are in the bottom 80 percent of America, you have a little stock and you can feel a little good about the stock going up. But let’s face it, the overwhelming bulk of our stock market is owned by the 1 percent.”

Stiglitz’s comments come as some central banks around the world are being forced to delve deeper into their policy tools to help support their economies. As policy makers struggle to find a way out of the economic malaise, some have even raised the idea of helicopter money, which aims to direct cash straight to consumers.

The Columbia University professor, who said the Federal Reserve can do more to “channel” money to small companies and the economy, was also critical of negative rates. This is partly because of their potential impact on lending.

“The dangers of negative interest rates -- if you don’t manage it extraordinarily well; some countries are doing it reasonably well, some are not -- is that it actually weakens the banking system,” he said. “If it weakens the banking system, the banks are going to provide even less credit. While it might have some effect on financial markets, in terms of what we really should be concerned about, which is the flow of credit to businesses, that’s not working.”

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