The Great Transition
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Policy news & blueprints for the transition to a new Sustainable and Social Economy
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Spain's CIC Tries to Build a New Economy from the Ground Up

Spain's CIC Tries to Build a New Economy from the Ground Up | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
CIC regards all of this as evidence that the state is no longer willing to honor its social contract with citizens. Accordingly, it has called for civil disobedience to unjust laws and is doing everything it can to establish its own social order with a more humane logic and ethic.
Willy De Backer's insight:

David Bollier on the Catalan Integral Cooperative, 'one of the more audacious commons-based innovations to have emerged in the past five years'

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Eurozone stagnation is a greater threat than debt

Eurozone stagnation is a greater threat than debt | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
It would be wrong to think last week’s global market gyrations signal a return of the eurozone debt crisis. Sovereign bond spreads in the eurozone did not move by much, except in Greece. What happened last week is something rather different.
Willy De Backer's insight:

Interesting that the 'secular stagnation' narrative is convincing more economists and pundits. How long before they will recognise that we have entered the post-growth era?

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France rebels against austerity as Europe's recovery collapses

France rebels against austerity as Europe's recovery collapses | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
France’s finance minister sends tremors through European capitals with a defiant warning that his country would no longer try to meet deficit targets
Willy De Backer's insight:

Is this the end of Europe's austerity fundamentalism? Don't count on it. European elites don't have a real alternative as they refuse to see that we have entered the post-growth era.

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Ex-Treasury adviser: no real recovery - growth 'hype' masks crash risk

Ex-Treasury adviser: no real recovery - growth 'hype' masks crash risk | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
Nafeez Ahmed: GDP stats reveal same brand of unsustainable debt-led growth behind worst financial crisis since Great Depression
Willy De Backer's insight:

The reality behind the so-called economic 'recovery' - the 'economists' are still not getting it, Your Highness.

"The misnamed 'recovery' is merely "a return to the debt-led and consumption-driven growth of the pre-crisis era…"

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Eli Levine's curator insight, May 1, 2014 8:11 AM

When people don't have money to spend, debt naturally increases.  When debt increases without having compensation to cover for the debt, you're set up for a situation where people will be called for their money, not have money available to pay up, and thus, all planned profits and growth forecasts go down the tubes.  A tall, ever-growing building cannot be supported without a deep foundation beneath it.  Even then, the environment and technological limitations will prevent the building from growing larger than both the environment and the technology can support it.

 

Think about it.

 

Because this isn't some trumped up "government debt" argument that's being used here while the deficeit is decreasing.  This is debt at the root microlevels of the economy: individual households and the like.

 

If the UK falls, everywhere else is going to fall as well.  We're so interconnected that a failure in one node will lead to critical losses everywhere else.  All for the sake of the rich people's delusion that money is worth something beyond a means of exchange.  All for the sake of conservatives' ideological belief that government presence anywhere is an inherently bad thing.

 

And they won't learn a thing from these mistakes.

 

Think about it.

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Should Scientists go on strike over climate change?

Should Scientists go on strike over climate change? | The Great Transition | Scoop.it

"So at this point it’s absurd to keep asking the scientific community to churn out more reports. In fact, it might almost be more useful if they went on strike: until you pay attention to what we’ve already told you, we won’t be telling you more.”

Willy De Backer's insight:

Not a bad idea, but will scientists have the guts to speak out (except for a few exceptions).

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Why green growth won’t transform the economy | openDemocracy

Why green growth won’t transform the economy | openDemocracy | The Great Transition | Scoop.it

"Green growth is a myth. Because it ignores the social, political and personal dimensions of sustainability, it can never cut deep enough into the structures of self and society to secure solutions to the crises that we face."

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What if economic growth is no longer possible in the 21st century?

What if economic growth is no longer possible in the 21st century? | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
The postwar economic model is no longer sustainable or effective. That means we must turn to redistribution if we want to save the middle class.
Willy De Backer's insight:

Great article - the answer is simple; the politics impossible. A post-growth society will need a new prosperity paradigm, new institutions and new leaders. Think this will happen without collapse and hard shocks? think again.

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Eli Levine's curator insight, March 22, 2014 8:02 PM

The elephant in the room.

 

What is the point of economic growth if it does not enrich all of our lives?  What good is it if we impoverish ourselves and our environment in order to get it?

 

We're not all going to be millionaires, nor does one/their family need to be millionaires in order to be happy, well off and able to take care of themselves.  What is the point of prioritizing pieces of cloth rag over our physical, psychological, social and environmental health?  Why not let growth happen organically, based upon the natural ebbings and flowing of goods and services, technological development and resource conservation?

 

What good is money if you poison yourself for it?

 

Think about it.

 

 

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Kenneth Rogoff identifies several obstacles to keeping living standards on an upward trajectory

Kenneth Rogoff identifies several obstacles to keeping living standards on an upward trajectory | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
The promise that each generation will be better off than the last is a fundamental tenet of modern society. But will future generations, particularly in advanced economies, realize such expectations?
Willy De Backer's insight:

Slowly some traditional economists are starting to wake up to the question of the future and nature of growth (see also Pisany-Ferry on this Project Syndicate). Problem is that they are illiterate as regards the impact of energy on the economy. They still fail to grasp the truth of planetary limits to growth.

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Gaubert Stephane's curator insight, March 7, 2014 3:19 AM

not sure we'll live better than our parents, though we'll surely live longer ...

Eli Levine's curator insight, March 11, 2014 1:16 PM

Again, it's a question of producing value as opposed to wealth; health and quality of life over financial gain for a few "owners" of production.

 

What good is a financially bigger cut, if it comes at environmental and social costs that may prove to be deadly to the individuals and organizations who choose to ignore the ecological and social consequences of their action?  What good is a profit if you, and everyone else, is dead?  Who would acknowledge your wealth?  How would you buy things?

 

Think about it.

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Climate Change: The Wrong Top Priority for Environmentalists and Conservation Professionals

Climate Change: The Wrong Top Priority for Environmentalists and Conservation Professionals | The Great Transition | Scoop.it

"While climate change is a legitimate threat, prioritizing climate change was driven largely by (relative) political convenience and the constant jockeying for agency funding, NGO membership dues, and foundation grants. Meanwhile the failure to prioritize economic growth, the mother of 21st-century threats, is driven by shallow political thinking and the personal interests of "leaders" getting paid the big bucks at the heads of government agencies and environmental NGOs."

Willy De Backer's insight:

Controversial but absolutely correct analysis by Brian Czech on why the debate about the conflict between economic growth and sustainability should be the real framing for the transition debate.

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Former BP geologist: peak oil is here and it will 'break economies'

Former BP geologist: peak oil is here and it will 'break economies' | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
Nafeez Ahmed: Industry expert warns of grim future of 'recession' driven 'resource wars' at University College London lecture
Willy De Backer's insight:

Excellent must-read article by Nafeez Ahmed in the Guardian. "The fundamental dependence of global economic growth on cheap oil supplies suggests that as we continue into the age of expensive oil and gas, without appropriate efforts to mitigate the impacts and transition to a new energy system, the world faces a future of economic and geopolitical turbulence".

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When Wealth Disappears

When Wealth Disappears | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
We are reaching end times for Western affluence. We must accept economic honesty and recognize that promises made during good times can no longer be easily kept.
Willy De Backer's insight:

Brilliant must-read article from NY Times.

"In his “Future of an Illusion,” Sigmund Freud argued that the faithful clung to God’s existence in the absence of evidence because the alternative — an empty void — was so much worse. Modern beliefs about economic prospects are not so different. Policy makers simply pray for a strong recovery. They opt for the illusion because the reality is too bleak to bear. But as the current fiscal crisis demonstrates, facing the pain will not be easy. And the waking up from our collective illusions has barely begun."

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Delaying climate policy would triple short-term mitigation costs

Delaying climate policy would triple short-term mitigation costs | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
12/09/2013 - Further delay in the implementation of comprehensive international climate policies could substantially increase the short-term costs of climate change mitigation.
Willy De Backer's insight:

Current climate policies stalemate could cost -7% economic growth if effective global agreement only from 2030; 'only' 2% if climate deal reached by 2015. This should be a wake-up call for the growth cornucopians.

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Economists forecast the end of growth

Economists forecast the end of growth | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
Nafeez Ahmed: Unlimited GDP growth is over as we enter a new age of resource scarcity - we must transition to a new economy
Willy De Backer's insight:

While Europe's economists fight over more austerity or neo-Keynesianism, the  end of growth will have huge societal impacts.

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Infinite happiness

Infinite happiness | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
Measuring happiness and letting it grow infinitely just as we used to do with GDP does not absolve economic activity from its ecological and societal impacts.
Willy De Backer's insight:

Thought-provoking article on the need for new 'beyond GDP' indicators questioning the 'happiness' as the new economic goal narrative. Reichel is right that 'beyond GDP' debate has diverted the discussion from issue of growth, but throws away baby with the bathwater. When shelving GDP, we need an alternative. Maybe happiness is too subjective as a goal. What about 'quality of life'?

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Secular stagnation: Facts, causes, and cures

"Six years after the Crisis and the recovery is still anaemic despite years of zero interest rates. Is ‘secular stagnation’ to blame? This column introduces an eBook that gathers the views of leading economists including Summers, Krugman, Gordon, Blanchard, Koo, Eichengreen, Caballero, Glaeser, and a dozen others. It is too early to tell whether secular stagnation is really secular, but if it is, current policy tools will be obsolete. Policymakers should start thinking about potential solutions."

Willy De Backer's insight:

Very interesting piece in Vox.eu about the new economic reality: slow growth. Fascinating to see how these economists keep ducking the real tough question: is it possible that we have entered the post-growth era?

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Economy on the edge: seeking a world that works for the 100%

The global economy is on the edge with 85 people having as much wealth as 3.5bn of the world's poorest. We need a new story of an economy that doesn't trash the planet
Willy De Backer's insight:

Excellent Guardian article by Hunter Lovings, Robert Costanzo and others on the new ecological economic paradigm which can take the planet away from the edge.

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Well-being is more than a side-show to neoliberal economics

Well-being is more than a side-show to neoliberal economics | The Great Transition | Scoop.it

"A post-growth agenda is not necessarily about making sacrifices, but about superceding a broken economic model that is failing to make us better off. 

At its best, the well-being agenda is not just a sideshow to neoliberal economics: it points towards a new economics, one which values equality, stability and community rather than simply growth for growth’s sake."

Willy De Backer's insight:

Good Open Democracy article on the growth versus well-being debate.

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Energy and the Financial System: What Everyone Needs to Know… and Work Darn Hard to Avoid

Energy and the Financial System: What Everyone Needs to Know… and Work Darn Hard to Avoid | The Great Transition | Scoop.it

"Our economic and financial system is based on assumptions of continued growth. Currently growth is highly dependent on energy and a surplus thereof as provided by high EROI energy sources. Our available energy sources, however, are providing less and less energy returns on the amount of energy we put into them. Therefore the amount of surplus energy available is declining. Thus, given the dependence of growth on energy, growth will decline too. The little remaining health of our financial systems, however, relies heavily on assumptions of continued growth and rather high ones at that, but those assumptions will increasingly turn out to be false if Boyd’s prediction of declining EROI is true".

Willy De Backer's insight:

Great article on the link between society's diminishing energy return on energy investment and the current economic and financial crisis. A must-read for all austerians and post-Keynesians. This time it IS really different.

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Eli Levine's curator insight, April 13, 2014 6:35 PM

Indeed, our ability to "grow" economically and socially is bound by the environment, our population size, cosmological conditions, food production and our state of technology.  Should we honestly "grow" for the sake of "growing", if it comes at long term as well as short term harm?

 

Things that Capitalism under its current logic, does not answer and does not wish to answer.

 

Think about it.

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How the right sold austerity as the only economic solution

How the right sold austerity as the only economic solution | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
Richard Seymour: More than 30 years of neoliberalism and six years of austerity have floored us, yet the left is incapable of mounting a serious challenge to this economic orthodoxy. Why?
Willy De Backer's insight:

"The political possibilities have been narrowed through serial defeats of the left, the consequent incorporation of social democratic parties into the neoliberal consensus, and the transformation of state apparatus in a less democratic direction. No governing social democratic party offers a serious alternative to the austerity remedy. The diminution of practical solidarity following on from the state-led defeats inflicted on organised labour is far-reaching. Nine out of 10 private sector workplaces have never seen a union rep, let alone a picket line; the number of days lost to strike action in recent years have been, barring a relatively small spike in 2011, at historic lows. The idea of "rank and file" organisation, let alone wildcat strike action, is something seen only on the peripheries of the labour movement. Trade unions have been effectively disciplined. This is an important reason why the labour response to austerity has been so feeble."

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Eli Levine's curator insight, March 28, 2014 3:58 PM

There is, perhaps, no other field more political than economics.  Economics is politics, politics is economics.  They go hand in hand, one effecting the other, such that those with wealth have political power and those who don't are stripped of it.

 

It's  a shame that we don't move away from this hoarding behavior on the part of the rich and those who already have wealth and power. to do what actually works for everyone (including the rich, on the grand scale of things).  The environment is going to collapse under our current economic activity and, with it, will go the society, the polity and the economic wealth that went with it.  This will happen, regardless of if the society is able to overcome its malaise, to assert its democratic majority over the rich in the government.

 

Sadly, the official Left is led by a seemingly incompetent group of "yes people" who may secretly support the self-destructive endeavors of the Right.  They will neither let people who are competent at communicating to others rise in their ranks, nor will they necessarily adopt the policies that are NEEDED to preserve our world on the tangible level, not on the imagined level that the conservatives like to keep us at.

 

And so, we're left to die, individually and collectively, because no one with official power would rise to the challenge to get all of these conservatives from either party, public or private, into mental health clinics.  The opinions of conservatives from any party remain, as far as society is concerned, on an equal basis with the actual facts of the world (when they are so clearly not).  This is how civilizations end, because those who learn how to play the socially constructed game win out over those who know what the actual game is always about.  It's not the image of society that matters, but the actual conditions within it and within the environment that do.

 

That's what I've been saying these past 4 years.

 

And I doubt anyone has, or will, listen to what I have to say before it's too late to do anything about it.

 

Think about it.

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What We Know: American scientists' warning on climate chaos

What We Know: American scientists' warning on climate chaos | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
What We Know helps us understand the science behind the realities, risks and response to the climate challenge.
Willy De Backer's insight:

The scientific community is getting more vocal and outspoken(about time), but the more policy makers will understand what they will need to do (questioning the Western way of life), the more they will hide themselves in ideology and denial.

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Eli Levine's curator insight, March 18, 2014 4:33 PM

The whole thing is about to break down, unless there is a significant coup against the existing private interests and their hold on policy makers' decisions.

 

One has to wonder how mentally healthy these people are who think that wealth is more valuable than health, regardless of the reasoning or justification for that wealth.

 

Think about it.

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The BRICS of collapse? Why emerging economies need a different development model

The BRICS of collapse? Why emerging economies need a different development model | The Great Transition | Scoop.it

They have pursued GDP growth with little or no investment in human, social and natural capital. This does not bode well for the future of the world economy.

Willy De Backer's insight:

summary of an excellent report by Demos and others which can be found here: http://www.demos.org/sites/default/files/publications/BRICS.pdf

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Malign Confusion About Growth, Economic Growth or "Degrowth": Which Way Forward?

Malign Confusion About Growth, Economic Growth or "Degrowth": Which Way Forward? | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
climate scientists have suggested that intentional ''de-growth'' is the only hope to stop the rising emissions associated with economic development and growth.
Willy De Backer's insight:

Long but excellent must-read analysis by Michael Hoexter of New Economic Perspectives on the need for degrowth strategies to tackle climate chaos.

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What Happened to the Future?

What Happened to the Future? | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
Improbably, the global economy has returned to growth over the past four years despite the ravages of a deflationary debt collapse, a punishing oil shock, ongoing constraint from debt and deleveraging...
Willy De Backer's insight:

Excellent article at Peak Prosperity by Gregor Macdonald explaining how increased use of coal and gas is restarting growth in the global economy after the oil crash and what it will mean for future investments when global net energy per capita is in decline.

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More growth, not less, is the best hope for averting a sixth great extinction

More growth, not less, is the best hope for averting a sixth great extinction | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
Over the past few centuries mankind’s economic growth has caused many of the problems that other species face. But as our special report this week argues, greater human prosperity now offers other species their best chance of hanging on.
Willy De Backer's insight:

Very smart but deceptive article in the Economist on the link between biodiversity and economic growth. Two problems: it equates 'greater human prosperity' with growth and leaves out the social justice factor as an important dimension of why poor countries do even worse on biodiversity protection.

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Herman Daly: Why GDP Growth No Longer Leads to Increased Employment

Herman Daly: Why GDP Growth No Longer Leads to Increased Employment | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
Real wages have been falling for decades, yet our corporations, hungry for cheaper labor, keep bleating about a labor shortage. Something doesn't add up.
Willy De Backer's insight:

Great article by Herman Daly. "We are constantly told it is because growth is too slow — the single cause of all our problems! That we would be better off if we were richer is a definitional truism. The question is, does further growth in GDP really make us richer, or is it making us poorer by increasing the uncounted costs of growth faster than the measured benefits? That simple question is taboo among economists and politicians, lest we discover that the falling benefits of growth are all going to the top 1%, while the rising costs are “shared” with the poor, the future, and other species."

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