Inequality is shaping the 2016 U.S. presidential election, as voters disillusioned by the financial crisis and Wall Street greed increasingly turn to populist candidates like Bernie Sanders, who has made economic inequality a central platform of his campaign, Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz said on Wednesday.
"There are a lot of people that are described as angry and they finally figured out that they’re not doing very well," Bloomberg reports Stiglitz as saying during an event at the Resolution Foundation, a London-based research group. "They’re not doing as well as their parents; some Americans aren’t doing as well as their grandparents."
"Americans have seen lots of injustices—people were thrown out of their houses that didn’t owe money, and none of the bankers were held accountable" for their roles in the financial crisis, Stiglitz said. "I think that really has motivated the anger across the spectrum."
Stiglitz, who is also a professor at Columbia University, told Democracy Now! in a December interview that "we’re a wealthy-enough economy that we should be able to provide the basic requisites of a middle-class lifestyle for all Americans."
"[T]he question is whether the United States is rich enough to be able to make sure that everyone has a basic right to healthcare, family leave, parental, you know, sick leave—we are exceptional—whether we are a society that can tolerate—that should tolerate the levels of inequality that we have," Stiglitz said at the time. "I think Bernie Sanders is right about that."
On Wednesday, Stiglitz pointed out that 91 percent of economic gains made since the 2008 recession went to the top one percent of earners, while the minimum wage has failed to keep up with the pace of inflation by more than 60 years.
"The American economy is a failed economy," he said. "We have to once again rewrite the rules of the economy for the 21st century."