Category: The Economy

Let’s Knock Down the Three Pillars of Sustainable Development

Let’s knock down the three pillars of sustainable development!  This wholly misleading picture, promoted at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, is still around.  The 2012 Rio conference is an opportunity to replace it with a very different picture.  The “three pillars” obscure the real relationship between the economic, the social, and the environmental.  They are not equals.  “The environment” is the physical reality all life depends on.  “The social” is about one of the species within the environment, our own, organising itself.  “The economic” is in turn one sub-set of the social.  Each is nested within the next: economic within social within environmental.

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The Next Banking Crisis

by Hugo Radice

In the ongoing Euro-crisis, our political leaders are constantly criticised for “playing catch-up” and not being “ahead of the curve” (although others might feel that they are completely round the bend).   Perhaps, therefore, it is time to look up from the turmoil in the sovereign bond markets and the counsels of the European Union, dust off the crystal ball, and look forward to the next banking crisis.  For it is becoming increasingly clear that banks across Europe face a much more serious problem than a 50% haircut on their holdings of Greek government bonds;  and that problem goes to the heart of what is wrong with the current culture and practices of the financial sector.

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A UK Recovery Program: Go Keynesian (Part 2)

by John Weeks

The latest statistics show that real household earnings in Britain fell by 3.5% over the last year (The Guardian24 November 2011), a decline unprecedented in peacetime.  What can be done to stop this unfolding disaster? While the private sector is dangerously in debt (“over-leveraged”), the public sector is not as I showed in my last article.  On the contrary, by any accepted financial measure, the UK government is under-indebted, the ratio of net debt to GDP, debt service capacity or marginal borrowing cost.

The solution to falling comes and the looming second recession is for the government to borrow and spend.  If that sounds like bad economics, it is only because the economics profession degenerated into free market metaphysics long ago, turning out reactionary propaganda against rational policy.

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Decent Work 2.0

by Frank Hoffer

Last month, Juan Somavia, the long serving Director-General of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) announced his departure in 2012.

As head of the ILO, he introduced the Decent Work Agenda in 1999 to re-focus the ILO and make it relevant for the 21st century. Twelve years later, the concept of ‘Decent Work’ is firmly established in the global debate and as an objective of national policy. It appears in many documents of the multilateral system, the G20 and national policy fora. It generates millions of Google hits. It is the subject of much academic research and debate. It is enshrined in several ILO Conventions and Declarations, and the international trade union movement introduced the annual Decent Work Day to campaign for workers’ rights. ‘Decent Work’ is so ubiquitous in ILO documents that some cynics say: “Decent Work is the answer, whatever the question!”

Will Decent Work survive the departure of the Director-General who coined the term and so successfully marketed it? Should it survive? The answer to the former question is one of the unknowns of “Realpolitik”. The answer to the latter depends on the assessment of what Decent Work means and how it should evolve.

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Going Green without the Moralism

by Heleen de Coninck

There is no question about it: social democrats need to embrace environmental sustainability. Protecting our natural surroundings, keeping our air clean, providing a healthy environment and access to nature for everyone should be at the core of social democratic policies, just like providing economic and social sustainability should be.

However, we have to admit that in the triangle environmental, social and economic sustainability, sometimes simplistically referred to as planet, people and profit, the balance is tilted. While we see that at the moment either type of sustainability is sacrificed to short-term gains, environmental sustainability often loses out even in more prosperous times. Why is that?

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Progressing the Social Democratic Agenda