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Policy news & blueprints for the transition to a new Sustainable and Social Economy
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As cracks in its economy widen, is Germany’s miracle about to fade?

As cracks in its economy widen, is Germany’s miracle about to fade? | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
Philip Oltermann: As the markets tumbled last week, Germany, hailed only months ago for its resilience in the European crisis, came under fresh scrutiny. What lies ahead for the European powerhouse?
Willy De Backer's insight:

How Merkel's austerity obsession will kill the German and European economy.

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Europe's austerity zombies: Nursing a dead theory

Europe's austerity zombies: Nursing a dead theory | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
Evidence is mounting that austerity isn't working yet Germany and other European nations have doubled down on it, says Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz.
Willy De Backer's insight:

Stiglitz on EU leaders who hate the evidence and therefore change the theory. Or how the EU will be buried by its idiots.

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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, 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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There's a Class War Going On and the Poor Are Getting Their Butts Kicked | TIME

There's a Class War Going On and the Poor Are Getting Their Butts Kicked | TIME | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
Although they say they're concerned about inequality, economic policymakers continue to pummel low-income families and the jobless, and that’s bad for all of us
Willy De Backer's insight:

Time goes Marx...

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Eli Levine's curator insight, April 3, 6:25 PM

When you allow Capitalism to go laissez-faire, it leads to the rich getting richer while everyone else loses in the long term.  Wealth accumulates wealth, just as larger cities are able to attract more people and more stuff than small towns.

 

I do not believe we should tamper with the market itself.  I think we should be more proactive in making sure that people are compensated for the value of their labor, protected from the avarice and greed of a handful of people and that the environment is maintained in such a way that we're able to inhabit it and derive our wealth (in terms of goods and services) sustainably from it.

 

What good is profit if it's not just sitting around?  What good is wealth if it kills you to get it?

The economic policy makers are included in this picture too.  It's not like they're leaving this planet.  Even if they are, wouldn't we technically be better off without them?

 

We started from having zero monetary wealth, after all.

 

Think about it.

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Health systems, neoliberalism, and the end of growth: The World Health Organization in denial

Health systems, neoliberalism, and the end of growth: The World Health Organization in denial | The Great Transition | Scoop.it

"I suggest that the report illustrates the futility of relying upon the WHO to comprehend what is occurring, let alone to lead in protecting public health. This is important because the WHO is not just another think tank or academic institute; it is the appointed champion[xviii] of world health issues. If it will not speak truth to power[xix] for the European public –which means unequivocally rejecting austerity policies and growing inequalities in income and wealth as destructive of the social determinants of health- at this critical moment, there is no reason to expect it to do so as neoliberal governments continue to cannibalize their citizens to maintain a world politically ruled by a numerically tiny financial elite."

Willy De Backer's insight:

Brilliant must-read analysis of Dan Bednarz ('Health after Oil') on the futility of the WHO's critique of austerity policies and its impact on health. "The WHO abandons the European health crisis".

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Susan George on the secret capitalist cabal behind European austerity

Susan George on the secret capitalist cabal behind European austerity | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
The How to Win the Class War satirist tells Claire Provost about the 'shadowy plot' to claw back working-class gains
Willy De Backer's insight:

Satire or reality? Does it matter? When the history books will be written in 100 years, who cares?

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Why the world faces climate chaos - FT.com

 

"What makes the inaction more remarkable is that we have been hearing so much hysteria about the dire consequences of piling up a big burden of public debt on our children and grandchildren. But all that is being bequeathed is financial claims of some people on other people. If the worst comes to the worst, a default will occur. Some people will be unhappy. But life will go on. Bequeathing a planet in climatic chaos is a rather bigger concern. There is nowhere else for people to go and no way to reset the planet’s climate system. If we are to take a prudential view of public finances, we should surely take a prudential view of something irreversible and much costlier.."

Willy De Backer's insight:

Brave and remarkable article by FT chief economist Martin Wolf - but is FT ready to focus on sustainability and limits to growth?

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Shredded Social Safety Net: European Austerity Costing Lives

Shredded Social Safety Net: European Austerity Costing Lives | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
As the euro crisis wears on, the tough austerity measures implemented in ailing member states are resulting in serious health issues, a study revealed on Wednesday.
Willy De Backer's insight:

How the EU's austerity policies is leading to more suicides, mental illness and increased epidemics. Spiegel report based on scientific article in The Lancet.

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Spain is experiencing a period of intense social crisis.

Spain is experiencing a period of intense social crisis. | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
The eurozone crisis has badly affected the Spanish economy, leading to rising unemployment and large cuts in public spending. Vicente Navarro writes that the crisis has now progressed into a fronta...
Willy De Backer's insight:

very good analysis of the frontal attack on Spain (and Europe's) welfare state.

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Grand Old Marxists

Grand Old Marxists | The Great Transition | Scoop.it

"The great political thinkers of the twentieth century have discredited ideological systems that claim perfect knowledge of what is to come and present politicians as scientists of the future (remember, Ryan’s budget plan tells us what will happen in 2083). The way to national prosperity in the twenty-first century is surely to think non-ideologically, to recognize that politics is a choice among constraints and goods rather than a story about a single good that would triumph if only evil people would allow it to function without constraints. The market works very well for some things, the government is desperately needed for others, and stories that dismiss either one are nothing more than ideology."

 

Excellent analysis in New York Review of books on the "reverse Marxism" of the Romney-Ryan ticket for the US Presidency.

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Waiting in Vain for the Quick Fix

Waiting in Vain for the Quick Fix | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
The economic problems in the U.S. and Eurozone are mostly structural, not monetary. Unfortunately ideologues and politicians on both sides of the spectrum are interested in quick fixes rather than the real groundwork of economic progress.

 

Very good analysis by Jeffrey Sachs of the global economic crisis and why austerity policies and a return to classical Keynesianism will not work.

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Credit is What Credit Does: Finance and Economic Growth Uncoupled

Credit is What Credit Does: Finance and Economic Growth Uncoupled | The Great Transition | Scoop.it

“Most of our credit system does not support economic growth in the sense of supporting transactions in goods and services,” he explains. “Most of our finance system, most bank loans, support increased asset prices, which have a number of detrimental effects on the economy.”

 

"The threat to growth today is not a shrinking of the financial sector, but it enormous size.”

 

Must-read article on the web site of the Institute for New Economic Thinking.

 

 

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"A Green Alternative to Austerity?"

"A Green Alternative to Austerity?" | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
A big pile of green-growth reports demonstrates the plausibility of this path to recovery from an historic economic crisis. It is now up to us to realize its potential. Green growth offers a realistic alternative to the faltering austerity approach to overcoming the current economic crisis. Policymakers should incorporate this thinking into the “beyond austerity” narrative that is taking shape in a growing number of key EU member states.

 

Good Project Syndicate article by Dutch sustainability expert Roland Kupers on the value of several recent green growth reports and their link to the austerity versus growth debate in Europe.

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German model is ruinous for Germany, and deadly for Europe

German model is ruinous for Germany, and deadly for Europe | The Great Transition | Scoop.it

"France may look like the sick of man of Europe, but Germany’s woes run deeper, rooted in mercantilist dogma, the glorification of saving for its own sake, and the corrosive psychology of ageing."

Willy De Backer's insight:

Brilliant analysis in The Telegraph - 'The country has mistaken a confluence of exceptional events for permanent ascendancy. It cannot continue to live off exports of capital goods to China and the BRICS as they hit the buffers, or by stealing a march on southern Europe through wage compression, a zero-sum game.'

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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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Has the Working Class Really Accepted Austerity?

The result of this excessive caring is “that the basic logic of austerity has been accepted by almost everyone.” So while others may consider solidarity to be a virtue, Graeber believes that it is “the rope from which [the working] class is currently suspended.”

Willy De Backer's insight:

Very interesting debate between David Graeber and Suren Moodliar on the psychological disposition of workers to accept austerity policies.

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Eli Levine's curator insight, April 12, 8:45 AM

I'm honestly not sure about what the case is with people.  Polling and inquiries into what they're feeling and thinking would be needed in order to understand what the situation actually is.

 

However, what I do know is that when people have less at an increasingly rapid rate, they'll tend to notice and not be happy about it.  It'll be when people are literally starving en masse that we'll start to see something happen (which is in the realm of possibilities as climate change effects our food production in a negative fashion).

 

The elite's position is getting more and more untenable as time goes on; more and more delicate as they take more and more without the needed reciprocation.  Silly people whose mothers never taught them that there are limits and consequences for the actions that you do.

 

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, 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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Reclaiming the Radical Imagination: Challenging Casino Capitalism's Punishing Factories

Reclaiming the Radical Imagination: Challenging Casino Capitalism's Punishing Factories | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
Henry Giroux: Cultivating the radical imagination, civic education and critical modes of literacy are central to producing an informed citizenry, but even more so to constituting any viable notion of politics.
Willy De Backer's insight:

Brilliant analysis of casino capitalism and its austerity and inequality excesses. "We live in an age of proliferating political zombies, disimagination machines and punishing factories. This is an age of full blown authoritarianism parading, ironically, in the name of freedom and liberty".

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Robert Skidelsky: Four fallacies of the second Great Depression

Robert Skidelsky: Four fallacies of the second Great Depression | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
The period since 2008 has produced a plentiful crop of recycled economic fallacies, mostly falling from the lips of political leaders. Four such arguments have been the most important – and the most damaging – in terms of guiding economic policy.
Willy De Backer's insight:

Brilliant critique of four established but false stories of the austerity narrative.

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How the Case for Austerity Has Crumbled by Paul Krugman

How the Case for Austerity Has Crumbled by Paul Krugman | The Great Transition | Scoop.it

So is the austerian impulse all a matter of psychology? No, there’s also a fair bit of self-interest involved. As many observers have noted, the turn away from fiscal and monetary stimulus can be interpreted, if you like, as giving creditors priority over workers. Inflation and low interest rates are bad for creditors even if they promote job creation; slashing government deficits in the face of mass unemployment may deepen a depression, but it increases the certainty of bondholders that they’ll be repaid in full. I don’t think someone like Trichet was consciously, cynically serving class interests at the expense of overall welfare; but it certainly didn’t hurt that his sense of economic morality dovetailed so perfectly with the priorities of creditors.

 

Willy De Backer's insight:

Very interesting article by Paul Krugman in the NY Review of Books on why the austerity narrative seduced political elites in Europe and the US.

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On the link between resource scarcity, financial fraud and the failure of austerity policies

Willy De Backer's insight:

This is an absolute must-read commentary written by Jin Chen and James Galbraith explaining how rising energy and resource constraints have led to the extreme fraudulous financialisation of global economy and why austerity policies but also a return to Keynesianism will not work.

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Global Noise takes on austerity: 'We are not going to be silent'

Global Noise takes on austerity: 'We are not going to be silent' | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
Demonstrators across the world are calling for an end to austerity as Global Noise protests kick off in more than 30 countries, including many in the Nobel Peace laureate European Union.

 

Is Global Noise the new "Occupy"? Opposition against globalised new class warfare will need more than just a narrative. It will need organisation.

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In Spain, financial crisis feeds expansion of a parallel, euro-free economy

In Spain, financial crisis feeds expansion of a parallel, euro-free economy | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
At a time when the future of the currency is in doubt and millions are unemployed or underemployed, an alternative, euro-free economy is springing up in Spain and elsewhere.

 

The Washington Post has this interesting article on how people in the Eurocrisis countries are finding ways to defeat the austerity attacks of their governments.

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The Twilight of Investment

"It’s one of the mordant ironies of contemporary history that Europe fought two of the world’s most savage wars in the firt half of the twentieth century to deny Germany a European empire, then spent the second half of the same century allowing Germany to attain peacefully nearly every one of its war aims short of overseas colonies and a victory parade down the Champs Élysées."

 

Brilliant analysis by John Michael Greer of Europe's debt crisis and the global context of failing economic growth. Must-read.

 

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Book review: Jeff Rubin's "The End of Growth"

Book review: Jeff Rubin's "The End of Growth" | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
The former CIBC chief economist's lively new book also suggests that a slow economy might save the planet from Climate Armageddon.

 

Good review of economist Jeff Rubin's latest book "The End of Growth". It is interesting to look at the European austerity versus growth debate from this perspective of the future of growth.

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