Working Notes: A New Economic Paradigm?

Working Notes: A New Economic Paradigm?

Even as the global economy shows signs of recovery from the financial and economic shocks of the past two years, worrying questions remain. Just how robust is the recovery: is it possible we may yet face a ‘double dip’ recession? How long until economic growth translates into a fall in unemployment? How severe will be the social, as well as the economic, impact of governments having to deal with the public debt incurred in order to prevent a deeper recession?

More fundamental questions are also emerging. The word ‘recovery’ implies a return to a desired state. However, it is increasingly being argued that resumption of a consumption-driven and environmentally-damaging form of growth is neither feasible nor desirable. Commentators coming from very different starting points are drawing attention to the need for radical change in our thinking and policies if we are to achieve just and sustainable development.

Different aspects of this quest for alternatives are explored in this issue of Working Notes.

In ‘A New Economic Paradigm?’, Gerry O’Hanlon SJ points out that the notion that economic growth automatically represents human progress is increasingly being challenged. He notes various initiatives to devise measures of ‘growth’ that would take account of the damage caused by some economic activities but also recognise a range of factors that are integral to real progress.

He suggests that there is no technical solution to the current economic crisis, and so concern cannot be fixed solely on legislative and regulatory reform or specific social policy measures. Rather, there is need to focus on bringing about a change in culture and politics that will enable a radical reformulation of the goals and priorities of economic activity. Drawing attention to the potential contribution of religion to this process, he looks to the possibility that in Ireland we may even now find a space ‘where reformed Catholicism can join with other strands of Christianity, and other religions ... [and] all people of goodwill’ in a common search for more a holistic form of development.... read more

A New Economic Paradigm? Co-operatives and the Economic and Environmental Crisis
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