Stiglitz: what we're seeing right now in the United States is an outpouring of Democratic support for Vice President Biden. The level of engagement, the sense that America is at a turning point, it is authoritarian, we have one person- Trump being an authoritarian figure- trying to divide the country. We have another person, Biden, trying to bring us together, a person who's deeply committed to democratic values. Especially among the young people who often are not engaged in politics, the extent of their engagement is phenomenal, but it's across the board: people who never before got engaged in politics are very much engaged, phoning... That is- I hope- the check on all these abuses that I have described a minute ago.
Yang Hanyi：Trump got reelected? What will happen to the American system, because it seems to me that monetocracy is so entrenched that it protects and prolongs the kind of neoliberal capitalism? What if America fails to incrementally or progressively renew itself? We all know it's unsustainable, but what will happen after that, will it implode into an even bigger crisis with negative implications for world peace? What will happen?
Stiglitz: First, let me say I feel fairly confident that in a couple of weeks' time it will be very clear that a large majority of Americans will have chosen to go in the direction of democracy and the direction of Biden. Many of us are asking precisely the question you're asking. What are the consequences, the dark consequences of another term of Trump. Quite honestly,we don't know. Partly it depends on what will be the outcome in the Senate and the House of Representatives. This is where the checks and balances do come in, but I'm afraid it's more likely to gridlock. The president basically has had very little success in getting legislation through Congress over the last two years, and that kind of gridlock is likely to continue. Unfortunately, what that means is two things. It means that America will not be able to address some of the major problems, and that means the discontent that is very apparent will grow. And it will undermine the ability of America to respond to the challenges that we face.
The other problem that it poses is that Trump is an authoritarian figure. He doesn't understand and incorporate in his mindset very strong democratic values. He likes to use executive orders, likes to ignore norms and even laws.
Unfortunately he has packed the judiciary, so the judiciary isn't performing its functions that it should. So quite frankly, I'm worried. I'm worried. But let me repeat what I said. I have a lot of faith in the end in America I do believe that we Americans will make the right decision, and that what we view as a nightmare will be over on January 20th.
Zhang Weiwei: First on the part of this election. From the sources we have collected, Biden leads in opinion surveys and in some areas, but there seems to be still a strong counter force. So we will see very soon. You often refer to the Progressive Movement, the New Deal, and Great Society, so all these are historical precedents where the United States engaged in meaningful reforms and overcame its challenges. But compared with these three historical precedents, you see, today's United States, as you have elaborated in your book, you have a much stronger monetized politics, money-oriented democracy, and also the rise of the new social media, to a great extent also controlled by the power of capital, and the society is more divided. It used to be at that time more driven by the middle class, the rising middle class. Now, it's a somehow divided society, it's about identity politics. And all of these need strong, competent, and visionary leaders, I wonder whether you see this kind of leadership in the near future.
For China-US relations, I indeed hope that we will overcome at this particular stage. In the White House you have some cold warriors, I think it's very stupid, you cannot contain a country like China, which has over 130 countries as its largest trading partner, and you have the world's largest middle class 400 million people, real middle class with properties, and the world's largest trading nation. You cannot contain this kind of country. So this is my basic message. I think, when Biden spoke about the four major challenges for the United States, the pandemic, the unprecedented recession, climate change, and racial divide. I think, except for racial divide, we cannot do much about it, for the rest three, pandemic, recession and climate change, United States needs China's help. And China is also ready to help. Hopefully whoever in power after November or January we'll have much better US-China relations. It's not only for our two countries, but also for mankind.
Yang Hanyi: Professor Zhang, you've mentioned that the next... Because America certainly faces a crisis, and the man who help America navigate out of the crisis will have to be a very strong leader. My question is, is Biden such a strong leader for the future of America?
Zhang Weiwei: I'm not very sure. From whatever I can read, he's not a strong character. But who knows, maybe when he becomes a leader, he can show his particular side which we do not know he can be a strong leader, or his team can be strong. So let's hope for the best for the America's own interest.
The new leader in the United States should become not only strong, but also visionary, with a long-term vision. That's my critique of the Western political system. You cannot somehow produce now leaders with long vision. They are very short-term, short-sighted and populist. That's the trend. It's a pity.
Stiglitz: So I think actually, as you were saying, there are many things that make for a good leader, building consensus, and Biden will, I think, be extraordinarily good over that, especially after a president who's been very divisive, bringing the country together. I think he will do an extraordinary job in that.
I'm, again, very hopeful. Obviously you don't know who's gonna be a Franklin Roosevelt after the thing is over. But each period of time calls for a different kind of leader. We will inevitably need to go through a healing process. I am hopeful the Biden will be the kind of leader that the country needs a this particular moment.