"If we can move on from Adam Smith’s 300 year-old flawed analytical system to a proper understanding of the powers and public goods we have, due to ignorance, outsourced to the private banking sector – then perhaps as both economists and citizens we might finally be able to understand the creation of money – by both central and private banks – ‘out of thin air’. Only with this understanding will it be possible to devise policies, regulation and strategies to tackle and once again subordinate global finance to the interests of society and the ecosystem." (Source: Open Democracy)
Brilliant but sometimes a bit technical analysis by Ann Pettifor of the role of money and credit in the current economic crisis. Must-read article for anyone interested in how to tame the financial sector.
Scale is the ‘unreasonable challenge’ we must meet to drive forward sustainability. Simon Zadek explains how to achieve this (Source: The Guardian)
Sustainability "gurus"Simon Zadek and John Elkington highlighting the need for "breakthrough" capitalism and scaling up of sustainability at the end of a year which saw the freakiest weather ever, the expected failure or Rio and Doha, political elites’ obsession with the financial debt crises and new class wars in Southern Europe.
“As our global economic and ecological crises converge, neither neoliberalism nor Keynesianism can cure what ails us.” (Source: Foreign Policy in Focus)
Excellent analysis of the flawed remedies for the twin economy-ecology crises by Walden Bello in Foreign Policy in Focus.
“To analysts like Richard Heinberg, the intersection of the financial collapse, economic stagnation, global warming, the steady depletion of fossil fuel reserves, and agriculture reaching its limits is a fatal one. It represents a far more profound crisis than a temporary setback on the road to growth. It portends not simply the end of a paradigm of global growth driven by the demand of the center economies. It means the “end of growth” as we know it. It is, in short, the Malthusian trap, though Heinberg understandably avoids using the term.
The gyrations of the finance economy, he says, do not simply stem from the dynamics of capital accumulation but from an all-encompassing ecological disequilibrium. “Until now the dynamism of growth has enabled us to stay ahead of accumulating environmental costs,” he writes. But “as growth ends, the environmental bills for the last two centuries of manic expansion may come due just as our bank account empties."
“The concept of pricing ecosystem services and allowing them to be bought and sold has gained wide acceptance among conservationists in recent years. But does this approach merely obscure nature’s true value and put the natural world at even greater risk? “ (Source: Yale e360)
Excellent article in Yale’s Environment 360 on the important debate about pricing of natural capital. Is putting a price on externalities and services of nature the future of environmentalism or a new capitulation to the power of finance capitalism?
“Sian Sullivan, a University of London anthropologist, warns that past revolutions in capital investment, like the enclosure of common lands in eighteenth-century Britain, and the industrial revolution of the nineteenth century, resulted in “the shattering of peoples’ relationships with landscapes” and the conversion of rural folk into factory workers and service-providers for capital. In the ecosystem services movement, Sullivan warns, we are seeing “a major new wave of capture and enclosure of Nature by capital.” And it will come, she says, at the cost of profound cultural and psychological upheaval.
It may be, as some argue, that we have no better way to save the world. But the danger in the process is that we may lose our souls. “
“It is harder to organise a political movement to help young people than old people. Young people are less susceptible to being organised and they lack the patience for the hard graft of a long political campaign. They are more likely to be seduced by the weak ties of social networking and the false promise of slogans like ‘We are the 99 per cent.’ Nonetheless, these are the victims who need the most help and who lack the clout or visibility to be heard among the more pressing demands being made by the more militant elderly. They are the 5 per cent and we should do something for them.” (Source: London Review of Books)
London Review of Books has an excellent critical analysis by David Runciman of the Occupy movement and the 99% versus 1% narrative.
"By turning the natural world into a subsidiary of the corporate economy, it reasserts the biblical doctrine of dominion. It slices the biosphere into component commodities: already the government’s task force is talking of "unbundling" ecosystem services, a term borrowed from previous privatisations. This might make financial sense; it makes no ecological sense. The more we learn about the natural world, the more we discover that its functions cannot be safely disaggregated."
Good article in the Guardian by George Monbiot on the monetisation of nature.
In the Responses to Climate Change blog, ecological economist Robert Costanza et al reply to Monbiot’s arguments.
"The rich and powerful are lining up to ensure that they protect the unfair share of the earth’s resources that they enjoy. Now that the finance scam has fallen apart they are adopting more direct strategies." (Source: Gaian Economics)
Excellent analysis By Molly Scott Cato on how the capitalist elites are protection themselves from the Great Disruption and how high-level conferences co-organised by business and the military are preparing for the new ecological and social class war.
“As nature proves to us daily that the scale of our economic activities threatens our future, those whose power depends on the existing economic model are using their considerable resources to manouevre themselves into a dominant position within the new paradigm. Having lately accepted that there are limits to resources, they now move to suggest that private interests are best placed to make decision about how those limited resources should be shared. This will ensure efficiency, we are told, while equity concerns are sidelined and the question of the appropriate forum for decision-making is entirely off the agenda.”
"Whether capitalism can be compatible with a beyond-growth wellbeing economy is as yet unclear. What is called for is a shift away from the commodification of everything and to a market system not based on profit maximisation but the ecological efficiency of the equitable satisfaction of wellbeing-needs. Whether the entities we call ‘companies’ will morph to be compatible with such a paradigm or new enterprises, more like co-operatives, family, employee and community owned enterprise will be the norm in this new paradigm is also not yet clear. But what is clear is that we can’t go on in the same blind fashion we are currently pursuing." (Source: Energy Bulletin)
Jules Peck of the New Economics Foundation asks some interesting questions in this article republished on the Energy Bulletin.