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Whither Socialism?


  • Joseph E. Stiglitz

    () (Columbia University)


The rapid collapse of socialism has raised new economic policy questions and revived old theoretical issues. In this book, Joseph Stiglitz explains how the neoclassical, or Walrasian model (the formal articulation of Adam Smith's invisible hand), which has dominated economic thought over the past half century, may have wrongly encouraged the belief that market socialism could work. Stiglitz proposes an alternative model, based on the economics of information, that provides greater theoretical insight into the workings of a market economy and clearer guidance for the setting of policy in transitional economies. Stiglitz sees the critical failing in the standard neoclassical model underlying market socialism to be its assumptions concerning information, particularly its failure to consider the problems that arise from lack of perfect information and from the costs of acquiring information. He also identifies problems arising from its assumptions concerning completeness of markets, competitiveness of markets, and the absence of innovation. Stiglitz argues that not only did the existing paradigm fail to provide much guidance on the vital question of the choice of economic systems, the advice it did provide was often misleading.

Suggested Citation

  • Joseph E. Stiglitz, 1996. "Whither Socialism?," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262691825, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:mtp:titles:0262691825

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Van Wijnbergen, Sweden, 1986. "On fiscal deficits, the real exchange rate and the world rate of interest," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(5), pages 1013-1023, October.
    2. Tabellini, Guido & Alesina, Alberto, 1990. "Voting on the Budget Deficit," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(1), pages 37-49, March.
    3. Tobin, James, 1969. "A General Equilibrium Approach to Monetary Theory," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 1(1), pages 15-29, February.
    4. Sutherland, Alan, 1997. "Fiscal crises and aggregate demand: can high public debt reverse the effects of fiscal policy?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(2), pages 147-162, August.
    5. Menahem E. Yaari, 1965. "Uncertain Lifetime, Life Insurance, and the Theory of the Consumer," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 32(2), pages 137-150.
    6. Robert Summers & Alan Heston, 1991. "The Penn World Table (Mark 5): An Expanded Set of International Comparisons, 1950–1988," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 106(2), pages 327-368.
    7. Uzawa, H, 1969. "Time Preference and the Penrose Effect in a Two-Class Model of Economic Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 77(4), pages 628-652, Part II, .
    8. van Wijnbergen, Sweder, 1987. "Tariffs, Employment and the Current Account: Real Wage Resistance and the Macroeconomics of Protectionism," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 28(3), pages 691-706, October.
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    More about this item


    socialism; Walrasian model; economics of information;

    JEL classification:

    • P51 - Economic Systems - - Comparative Economic Systems - - - Comparative Analysis of Economic Systems
    • B0 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - General


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