Opinion (Joseph Stigliz, a professor at Columbia University, a Nobel laureate in economics): “Someone recently quipped that the best thing about 2011 was that it was likely better than 2012.
“European leaders repeatedly proclaim their commitment to saving the euro, but those who could have repeatedly said that they are committed to not doing what is needed. They have recognized that austerity will mean slower growth – indeed, a recession is increasingly likely – and that, without growth, the eurozone’s distressed countries will not be able to manage their debts. But they have done nothing to promote growth. They are on a death spiral.
“Two more positive notes for 2011: The US seems finally to have awakened to the yawning gap between the rich and the rest – between the top 1 percent and everyone else. And youth-led protest movements, from the “Arab Spring” to the Spanish indignados and the Occupy Wall Streeters, have made clear that something is very wrong with the capitalist system.
“The US had hoped for an export-led recovery, but, with economic growth slowing in Europe, its largest customer (and impeding growth in much of the rest of the world), that is unlikely. And, with the worst effects of spending cuts potentially still to come, gridlock – and Republican spite – may mean that the Barack Obama administration’s payroll-tax cut will not be extended, weakening household consumption.
“2012 may mark the beginning of a new and more frightening phase of the world’s worst economic calamity in three-quarters of a century.”