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Economics and the environment

Economics and the environment

This is the text, including slides, from a talk given on October 28 2020 during an online event organised by University College Cork’s Economics and Environmental Societies. (I didn’t follow the text word for word during the talk, but it covered the same ground)

Thank you very much, I’m delighted to be able to participate in this discussion.

My name is Caroline Whyte, I have a background in ecological economics and I do research and help with communications for a think tank called Feasta: the Foundation for the Economics of Sustainability.

Feasta, as some of you may know, is the Irish word for ‘in the future’. We have our administrative headquarters in at the ecovillage in Cloughjordan, and we’re in the Environmental Pillar of Irish environmental NGOs and in Stop Climate Chaos Ireland, but our focus is actually quite global and we have international membership. I’ll be explaining a bit more about Feasta later.

If I’m asked about the role economics plays in the environment and sustainability, my answer would be ‘what kind of economics are you talking about’ because there are a lot of different schools of thought within economics. You could be forgiven for not knowing that though, because there’s one particular school of thought that’s become quite dominant in university courses and in think tanks, political advisory groups, the media and so on – you could call it Neoclassical economics.

I find this approach to economies – particularly standard macroeconomic theory – quite problematic in many ways for the environment and for society and I’ll explain why in a minute. I’d argue that there needs to be a much broader range of economic thinking in universities, in the media, in advisory groups, all over really, if the economy is going to be able to adapt itself properly to our environment…

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Coming Financial Crisis of 2021

Economist Steve Keen predicts that even if the covid-19 health crisis subsides next year, a brewing financial crisis on par with the 2008 Great Recession is in the making.

He sees the pandemic as having delivered an “unprecedented shock” to the global economy, and the response from authorities as nothing less than a “catastrophe”.

With tens of millions of households having lost their income this year, personal savings becoming exhausted, government support programs on their way to drying up, and lots more company layoffs/bankruptcies/closures ahead — Steve expects a punishing recession to arrive in full force in 2021.

And on a larger scale, he sees modern neoclassical economics — which ignores the importance of natural resources and the health of our ecosystems — as completely unsuited for the reality in which we live today. He warns that if we don’t adapt a more informed approach to managing the global economy, we will only continue to make the mess we’re in worse:

Review of Mirowski’s Never Let a Serious Crisis Go To Waste


Philip Mirowski, known for his book More heat than light – economics as social physics, physics as nature’s economics in which he criticizes neoclassical economics for adopting methods from the natural sciences, recently published a book on neoliberalism and the economic profession during the financial crisis. In Never Let a Serious Crisis go to Waste his main thesis is that the economic profession utterly failed in predicting and explaining the financial crisis. Nevertheless mainstream economists did not suffer any negative consequences but continue with business as usual.

In Mirowski´s view neoclassical economics, neoliberalism and the political right came out of the crisis stronger thanks to a complicated propaganda efforts and an intricate lobbying machine headed by the Mont Pelerin Society (MPS). According to Mirowski, the Mont Pelerin Society functions at the heart of a complex web of conservative and free market think tanks and neoliberal academics that controls politics.

Mirowsky´s analysis is interesting even though it comes from a far left and egalitarian perspective. Especially his analysis and critique of neoclassical economics is pertinent. This review essay is structured into three parts. First, I will comment on the issues where Mirowski is right. Second, I will discuss Mirowski´s fundamental mistake of not distinguishing clearly between Austrian economics (and libertarianism) and neoclassical economics (and neoliberalism). Lastly, I will respond to some myths and errors on the market economy held by Mirowski and typical for socialists.


The lamentable state of the mainstream economic profession

The neoclassical mainstream profession was unable to predict the Great Recession. As neoclassical economists believed in a new age of macroeconomic stability, dubbed the Great Moderation, in which central banks had basically abolished harsh recessions, they were taken by surprise by the immense problems the financial system and the world economy started to experience in 2008.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The overdue Copernican Revolution in Economics – Steve Keen’s Debtwatch

The overdue Copernican Revolution in Economics – Steve Keen’s Debtwatch.

This is the talk I gave at the first con­fer­ence of the Inter­na­tional Stu­dent Ini­tia­tive for Plu­ral­ism in Eco­nom­ics, held in the beau­ti­ful Ger­man town of Tue­bin­gen, Ger­many on Sep­tem­ber 19–21 2014.

I cover Min­sky, money, com­plex­ity, the role of debt in aggre­gate demand & aggre­gate sup­ply, and the eco­nomic cri­sis. I spoke too fast and cov­ered top­ics at too high a level for many of the under­grad­u­ate stu­dents in the audi­ence who are part of the rebel­lion against the dom­i­nance of eco­nom­ics tuition and research by Neo­clas­si­cal eco­nom­ics. I hope putting it up here gives those stu­dents and oth­ers a chance to “hit the pause but­ton” and go through my talk more slowly.

– See more at: http://www.debtdeflation.com/blogs/2014/09/23/the-overdue-copernican-revolution-in-economics/#sthash.ztLwxDRA.dpuf

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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