Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Joseph Stiglitz Speaks at ANU

I went to see the "Crawford School Oratory" today given by Joseph Stiglitz - just one of the stops on his Australian tour. As you probably know he is a Nobel Prize winning economist who was chief economist at the World Bank and since then has been critical of both the Bank and the IMF and increasingly of other financial institutions and free market oriented capitalism in general. The talk was titled "The Road to Ruin" and was about the Global Financial Crisis/North Atlantic Recession. He was a good speaker and pretty funny at many points. The audience was often laughing. In response to a question about "too big to fail banks", Stiglitz said they should be broken up (something I have suggested but doesn't seem to be favored among economists). In response to a question on climate change, he noted that carbon is more mis-priced than risk was leading up to the GFC and called for a price on carbon saying that he favored carbon taxes and a reduction in taxes on labor and capital.

The event was described as "booked out", but actually there were plenty of empty seats in the 1442 capacity concert hall, especially in the upstairs seating. Registration was required but the event was free. If it doesn't cost anything to say you are coming and no one will notice if you don't come in such a large crowd, why not say you're coming just in case you feel like it on the day? I wonder whether there are people who missed out on seeing the talk because the event was supposedly booked out. Not a very efficient process I think.

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