Home | About | Donate

The Great Malaise Continues


The Great Malaise Continues

Joseph Stiglitz

NEW YORK – The year 2015 was a hard one all around. Brazil fell into recession. China’s economy experienced its first serious bumps after almost four decades of breakneck growth. The eurozone managed to avoid a meltdown over Greece, but its near-stagnation has continued, contributing to what surely will be viewed as a lost decade. For the United States, 2015 was supposed to be the year that finally closed the book on the Great Recession that began back in 2008; instead, the US recovery has been middling.


Capitalism can only exist when properly underpinned by socialism. To disparage the fruits of capitalism would be hypocritical as I type on this computer. However, the internet that facilitates your reading this message is the product of socialism. At this point in time capitalism, primarily through hyper-financialization, weighs too much for the social (and planetary) good. Without a SIGNIFICANT redevelopment of social infrastructure (transportation, education, environment, etc.) capitalism will implode and the rich will be eaten. The rich only seek to die before this happens. Little else seems to matter to them.


The Great Recession? The Great Malaise? It'd be more honestly called the Great Delay. The world is stalling/delaying the change over from fossil fuels to solar/wind/tidal and geothermal alternative energy.

The ever economical (linguistically) about economics Stiglitz simply mentions the need for new infrastructure that creates jobs which stimulate demand/buying power all from a switch to renewables but... BUT (a bigger but)...

... Politics has ruined the political climate and now we are trapped between rightwing conservatives and ... and... well ... between them and those left wing conservatives. Somebody forgot to bring the liberals and progressives to the party.

The corporate oligarchy is not progressive. The corporate control through trade agreements is not progressive or even liberal. We are stuck in conservative mindset where fascism seems almost reasonable to some and endless war is to others a solution. Conservatives abhor change and avoid letting go of a money maker.

Fossil fuel use is not only killing the world as we knew it but preventing our migration to a renewable based world economy that is needed.

The Great Delay is in effect. Stiglitz puts it succinctly (to say the least literally)! The change from fossil fuels to renewables would fix not only climate change but also revamp our global economy.

So what's stopping us?

Guess who?

The corporate coup... that's who.


"Moreover, much of the world is confronting – with difficulty – the need for structural transformation: from manufacturing to services in Europe and America, and from export-led growth to a domestic-demand-driven economy in China."

Robert Reich in his 1983 book, "The Next American Frontier," earmarked America as the Service Sector of this brave new specialized world. What has happened since? The U. S. continues to bleed manufacturing jobs for dead end "service sector jobs," How much more structural transformation can the American worker take, before work itself is total self defeating durdgery. Does Mr. Stiglitz think the so called new manufacturing sectors in Reich's brave new world will cede high tech "service sector" jobs to America and Europe? China and India alone have millions of super competent and capable people. I don't get the value of further structural change, unless it is coupled with a nationally guaranteed income, an income enabling all to lead a full life with dignity.


This is certainly true:

"The obstacles the global economy faces are not rooted in economics, but in politics and ideology. The private sector created the inequality and environmental degradation with which we must now reckon. Markets won’t be able to solve these and other critical problems that they have created, or restore prosperity, on their own. Active government policies are needed."

On the other hand, this generic WE frame is pathetic in that it allots to average persons a political, economic, and muscular power that just does not exist inside the current paradigm:

"I warned in my book Freefall, which describes the events leading up to the Great Recession, that without the appropriate responses, the world risked sliding into what I called a Great Malaise. Unfortunately, I was right: We didn’t do what was needed, and we have ended up precisely where I feared we would."

The elites devised the script along with its operational instructions.


Also missing from the calculus is a true understanding of the ecological state of our wondrous planet.

The minerals, metals, fossil fuels, plant-stuffs, forests, river systems, and food chain components are all in systems of crisis, crash, or collapse.

The "separation of the disciplines" has turned education into a realm where most people specialize in a particular realm of knowledge to the exclusion of a far more (necessary) holistic vision.

Just giving lip-service to the idea of changing infrastructure to accommodate global climate shift is insufficient. It doesn't take into full account what agricultural, marine life, and forest collapse will represent.

Meanwhile, the business of Wall St. is making $ out of thin air while half of what's collected in the way of U.S. tax monies is allocated to the endless make-war machinery of death, ecocide, and resource depletion....

Oh, and it's being branded as "recovery."

What fun for all!

Pay no attention to those 6 million--and growing--refugees...


This post was flagged by the community and is temporarily hidden.


This post was flagged by the community and is temporarily hidden.


From the article:
"The only cure for the world’s malaise is an increase in aggregate demand..."
"... important problems will require government investment. Such outlays are needed in infrastructure, education, technology, the environment, and facilitating the structural transformations that are needed in every corner of the earth..."
"The obstacles the global economy faces are not rooted in economics, but in politics and ideology..."
"The private sector created the inequality and environmental degradation with which we must now reckon..."

Stiglitz' blithe inclusion of "the environment" and "environmental degradation," among his listing of economic "problems" that can only be addressed by "an increase in aggregate demand," shows a stunning disconnect from ecological reality.

The accelerating dis-integration of the ecology is far more immediate and rapid than Stiglitz is apparently aware. Reversing the anthropogenic ecological dis-integration caused by human industrial assault, requires a MASSIVE DECREASE in what economists call "aggregate demand." We must stop the industrial assault on the Earth's ecology. This will require far deeper "structural transformations" in the workings of the economy, than Stiglitz can imagine. But we must imagine it, and carry it out.


As individuals, we can help decrease demand by reducing meat consumption. We don't need to wait for corporations to give us permission. And don't argue that this comment egotistically hi-jacks the comment section or is off topic. Those who say we are helpless until the corporations switch from fossil fuels to renewables are wrong. I am not saying nor have I ever said that the switch is not important as I have been unfairly accused of saying. I am just saying that we can take important action now rather than do nothing but complain about corporate inaction.


This post was flagged by the community and is temporarily hidden.


I think the first option is off the table. Changing how we "do business" is a big order, but might be possible with sufficient political will.Or we could just stop eating meat, as Zen Practice says (over and over an over again). That would solve the problem, sho'nuff. I'm not entirely un-serious about this. Reducing meat consumption somewhat might be part of changing how we do business. Depends on what you mean by "somewhat".


More aggregate demand may be the last thing we need, but until we replace the capitalist economy with something more equitable, we are struck with the growth model. So putting more money in the pockets of people who will spend it on goods and services is a perfectly reasonable thing to suggest. I'll leave it up to you to advise us on how we get from the economy we have, to an economy built on scaling back and de-growth-with maybe a stop along the way for a steady-state economy.


The Plutocrats got us right where they want us, on our knees and they damn well plan to keep us there forever if possible.


This post was flagged by the community and is temporarily hidden.


This post was flagged by the community and is temporarily hidden.


On no, I will be watching the new episode of "Dowenton Abby" tonight that will show us how "kind and benevolent" the 1% are. Since the dumbing down of education has began, I have no critical mind and will be punished for having one.


There were a lot fewer of them and a lot more room for them to live in. We have ever increasing populations and ever less room for them to inhabit.

What we do have is technology which can make up the difference between that past and the dire future ahead.

We have industrial agriculture that can feed billions for example and while we act as if the world is able to do that with only capitalistic greed deciding policy, we need a more sociologically cooperative economic model.

For example a minimum guaranteed income which gives republicans a heart attack just thinking about giving poor people enough money to live on automatically... actually makes sense if everything costs money. In effect letting people be too poor costs too much money. So we give them a guaranteed amount of money and it ends up being cheaper than providing them with housing, food, medical expenses etc.

A new way of being normal.


Paul Baran and Paul Sweezy have shown how much of the "Economy" consists of wasteful activities. An economy can be much smaller and still produce all necessary goods and services. In such an economy everyone works (a lot less number of hours) to produce something useful. The financial leeches (and used-car salesmen) become extinct.

We need to imagine the future to make it possible.



War ... especially endless war is certainly a racket and an excuse to pollute as well. There is one thing that isn't said about it although it is obvious.

War is also a career. Sounds obvious don't it? the professional soldier... the lifer... the military career etc.
We all know about that aspect already.

But consider such a career amid the concept of endless war. War had always been considered as a temporary state not a permanent state.

It changes a career in the military to a career in war. They become different things. A career of war.