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Joseph Stiglitz (born February 9, 1943) is an American economist, author and Nobel laureate (2001). He is probably the most famous contemporary left-leaning economist, a post-social-democratic answer to Milton Friedman, as it were.
Stiglitz was born in Gary, Indiana. From 1960 to 1963, he studied at Amherst College, then went to MIT for his fourth year as an undergraduate and later to pursue graduate work. From 1965 to 1966, he received a Fulbright Fellowship to study at Cambridge University. In subsequent years, he taught at MIT and Yale. He currently teaches at the Graduate School of Business at Columbia University.
In addition to making numerous influential contributions to microeconomics, Stiglitz has played number of policy roles. He served in the Clinton Administration as the chair of the President's Council of Economic Advisors (1995 – 1997). At the World Bank, he served as Senior Vice President and Chief Economist (1997 – 2000), before he was forced out by Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers.
Stiglitz' most famous research was on screening, a technique used by one economic agent to extract otherwise private information from another. It was for this contribution to the theory of information asymmetries that he shared the Nobel prize with George A. Akerlof and A. Michael Spence.
Along with his technical economic publications, Stiglitz is the author of Whither Socialism, a nonmathematical book providing an introduction to the theories behind economic socialism's failure in Eastern Europe, the role of imperfect information in markets, and misconceptions about how truly "free market" our free market capitalist system operates. In 2002, he wrote Globalization and Its Discontents, where he asserts that the International Monetary Fund puts the interest of "its largest shareholder," the US, above those of the poorer nations it was designed to serve. Stiglitz offers some reasons why globalization has engendered the hostility of protesters, such as those at Seattle and Genoa.