In parts of the world where the restoration of a civil society is gaining the upper hand, the march towards dystopia is being kept in check by the power of young people. Driven by a vision far different from their elders; political change have been initiated in countries like New Zealand; Korea, and recently, in Malaysia.
Stiglitz observes that it is a global community that is realising the importance of the rule of law.
“I think there is some hope. It’s the young people that have different vision, looking for meaning in life,” he said in his address on the first day of the Khazanah Megatrends Forum 2018 in Kuala Lumpur recently.
He adds it’s countries like New Zealand that are attempting on a different course, it’s civil society pushing for another vision, it’s countries like Korea where they had an uprising against the corrupt government and Malaysia where some of the thing occurred.
While the ravages of climate change appears to get short shrift from the United States – specifically applied to Donald Trump; other parts of the world are less cavalier ; including increasingly realising the values of privacy, compassion and care for the environment.
He says his students want a life beyond materialism; and a life with meaning.
“The question of course is, as they get older, will they be willing to stand up or will they be intimidated by the exercise of power? “ he asked.
Stiglitz also touched on the reliance of gdp figures as the basis of good economic performance which he describes as a fetish.
“I’ve been a chair of the International Commission looking at appropriate way of measuring economic performance and social progress and again, the overwhelming consensus of this commission, was that GDP was not a good measure of economic performance,” he said.
Stiglitz adds that there’s a whole global movement that is dedicated to constructing better statistical measurements to reflect what we care about, and what really ought to reflect successful economic and social progress.
The economist also did not miss the opportunity to hark back the Asian economic crises where Malaysia dared tread the unconventional path by instituting capital controls.
“The reason why I mentioned that is we are possibly going through another moment of extreme financial instability as interest rates go up in the United States, trade wars break out and it may be necessary to think back about how you manage these unstable capital flows which have been so costly to East Asia and the world,” he said.
Stiglitz welcomes the spirit where government actions are increasingly being questioned and scrutinised unlike before in an increasing number of societies; some of which whose citizens were cowed into meek subservience.
“But questioning will not suffice. We need mobilisation at a global scale to restore balance in a world that has gone so far off-kilter, “ he said.