NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Hillary Clinton reportedly may want to "topple" the 1%, but that does not make the multi-millionaire presidential candidate a hypocrite, says Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel prize-winning economist and author of "The Great Divide".
"The reality is that if you are going to get a voice to represent change in America you have to get elected first," says Stiglitz. "And until you get elected, you are not going to be able to change campaign finance reform and the other issues that have distorted our democracy and economy."
Stiglitz added that Clinton's sincerity will be tested if she wins the election, because she will then need to prove she is indeed serious about campaign finance reform. That's a test President Obama has thus far failed, according to Stiglitz, although he absolves Obama's inaction in the wake of the Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court.
"The President made a great display that he was getting a large amount from small donors, but he also got a lot of money from big donors and in the last few years things have gotten worse," says Stiglitz. "But not because of him. It's because of the Supreme Court."
Stiglitz also gives Berkshire Hathaway's (BRK.A) Warren Buffett a break, despite the fact that the billionaire investor profited greatly from his investments in Goldman Sachs (GS) and many of the other financial companies that Stiglitz rails against in "The Great Divide" for causing the Great Recession.
"I think like everybody, he is complex," says Stiglitz. "However, I think when he says it is wrong for him to pay lower taxes than his secretary as a percentage of his income, I think he is genuine about that."
As for the Great Recession itself, Stiglitz primarily blames the mortgage crisis on predatory lenders taking advantage of gullible average Americans than a lack of personal responsibility.
"I think personal responsibility is important, but disproportionately a lot of the people who ran into the problem were first time home-buyers and elderly people who didn't understand finance," says Stiglitz. "If you are a blue-collar worker or a janitor and a professional tells you that they are an expert in finance, it's very natural for people to trust their bankers. That was their mistake, they trusted the bankers."