Wednesday, March 6, 2013

"Managing without Growth" vs. "The End of Growth"

Earlier in the year I had the chance to listen to former Canadian bank energy economist Jeff Rubin talk about his new book "The End of Growth - but is that all bad?" .  His new book is a follow on from his excellent "Why Your World Is About to Get a Whole Lot Smaller: Oil and the End of Globalization".

In his new book Jeff Rubin continues to demonstrate that he has a very good sense of the broader dynamics of the current changes underway in the global economy, including the balance , broadly sharing in the same world-view as Niall Ferguson  (The Ascent of Money) and Ian Morris (Why the West Rules - For Now: The Patterns of History, and What they Reveal About the Future).

Based on his talk at the Toronto Metro Reference Library  (and hence my impression of the new book which I've not yet read) is that Rubin is (one of) the first neo-classical economists who appears to be starting to reach the same conclusions as the "steady-state" ecological economists - i.e. he's starting to sound like he believes in what Ecological Economists call Strong Sustainability*.  BUT his reasons for doing so, i.e. price signals based on supply and demand in the monetary economy are deeply flawed.   

I believe Rubin will eventually start to see the flaws in his thinking.  Hopefully someone will give Jeff a copy of Peter Victor's book excellent "Managing without Growth, or get him to listen to Peter lecture or discuss the important differences in their thinking.
  • Victor, P. A. (2008). Managing without growth : slower by design, not disaster. Cheltenham, UK ; Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar. 

Aside: In the interests of transparency, Prof. Peter Victor was my  Ecological Economics prof at York (ES/ENVS6115) in the winter 2011 (You can read my Term Paper: How Will Firms React to Limits on Bio-Physical Flows - An Exploration of Possibilities).

A summary of Peter's book, that uses systems dynamics models to explore the impact of strongly sustainable macro-economic policy decisions on the Canadian economy, can be viewed in the presentation Peter gave at the 2010 NetImpact conference at SchulichClick here for the slides which accompany this presentation.

Also Peter participated in CBC Radio 1 Ideas debate broadcast (from UofO) "Green Growth or no Growth" can be found here: (it was sponsored by this interesting group: - a video of the debate is available on this page).  

* "Strongly Sustainable" is a term used by Ecological Economists to indicate the impossibility of substituting natural capital with human, manufactured, social or financial capital in time frames which might help mitigate the worst effects of climate change and other anthropomorphic impacts as described by the IPCC and other bio-physical science. This implies the need for organizations to balance the achievement social, environmental and monetary goals.  
  • Neumayer, E. (2010). Weak versus strong sustainability :exploring the limits of two opposing paradigms (3rd ed.). Cheltenham, UK ; Northampton, MA : Edward Elgar

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