Thursday, March 20, 2008

Stiglitz: U.S. Financial Crisis Worst since the 30’s

The current financial crisis is the worst the world has seen since the Great Depression of the 1930s and the US Federal Reserve move to cut interest rates will not make much difference, the Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz said on Wednesday.

Stiglitz, who won the Nobel Prize in economics in 2001, is a former chief of the World Bank and chaired former US president Bill Clinton's council of economic advisers.

He said the main problem is the fact that an estimated 2 million Americans are going to lose their homes because they could not repay mortgages which exceed the value of their property, as house prices fell dramatically. "As people walk away from their mortgages there will be more and more defaults - that undermines the whole financial system," he said.

Stiglitz said the Bush administration was bailing out banks, but accused it of refusing to do anything to help poor people stay in their homes which would stabilise the housing market. "It's very easy to do something about it," he said, suggesting the administration could give assistance to write down mortgages to about 90 per cent of the value of a house which would enable people to stay in their properties.

[Of the Iraqi War, Stiglitz said:] "They didn't want Americans to know exactly how bad the war was for the economy so they flooded it with liquidity, they looked the other way with regulations and they deliberately, I think, postponed the problem into the future and now we're paying the price."

[The Economic Times]

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