Look the problem is simple, Stiglitz is not a team player. You ask and Summers is he a team player ? The answer is clear — yes if the team is an administration. If you hire Stiglitz he *will* embarrass you later by resigning and criticizing you.
I’m wondering whether this really can explain it.
1) Stiglitz did write Globalization and Its Discontents about how he believes international economic policy was mishandled during the late 90’s. But there, he wasn’t in the administration, strictly speaking: he was the chief economist of the World Bank. As far as I know, he did not write a kiss and tell about his time as CEA chair from 1993 to 1997. And he didn’t resign and embarrass the Clinton Administration in either place: he was forced out of the World Bank.
2) Is writing a memoir of government service really going to disqualify anyone from it? That would get rid of just about everyone in DC. Besides, I haven’t finished Discontents, but mid-way through, it’s about serious policy differences. It’s not a gossip book.
3) Maybe it would be a good idea to have some dissent on the economic team from the left, but from someone who has the financial chops to keep up with anyone, and who understands markets about as well as anyone.
My proposal at this point would be that perhaps Stiglitz would be a great replacement for Bob Zoellick at the World Bank. Stiglitz knows the territory, and it plays to his strengths without unnecessarily getting him into a smackdown with Summers.
An even more intriguing possibility is seeing whether Obama could appoint Stiglitz as the managing director of the IMF. He has been quite critical of IMF policy in the past. The Fund is badly in need of reform.
Traditionally, the Europeans choose the IMF managing director and the US chooses the World Bank head. That’s highly anachronistic in the post-American world.
A change that I would really like to see would be Stiglitz going to the IMF, with a (quasi) European like the excellent Turkish economist Kemal Dervis heading up the World Bank. That would send a real signal that the United States is changing its outlook, but at the same time, insisting on real professionalism.
But I’m just a blogger: these suggestions and $1.75 will buy you a cup of coffee.