System description

Overview of the current economic system

In order to change something you need to see how it is from the start. We identify 21 vital flows in the system representing economic transactions and relationships to natural capital. The three main types of flow are:

  • Material flows, for example minerals, products, waste (in BLUE)
  • Flows of money representing economic transactions (in GREEN)
  • Work – selling of citizens’ time to firms and authorities (in RED)
Continue reading “System description”

CRAG – the continuity agency idea – and Joel Makower’s case for a climate & Covid response

Writing on Greenbiz.com Joel Makower makes a strong case for including measures to prevent climate destabilisation in the current response to Corona. Specifically, the bailouts being requested by the airlines, the fossil fuel industry and industrial agriculture should be a chance to put the economy on the right footing.

… we need to be talking unapologetically about climate, the clean economy, renewable energy, resilient food systems, sustainable mobility, the circular economy and the Sustainable Development Goals with more vigor than ever.

Joel Makower
Continue reading “CRAG – the continuity agency idea – and Joel Makower’s case for a climate & Covid response”

New E-Book – addressing the market failures arising from the structure of the firm

We are in a time of transition. The world no longer seems to present vast frontiers of new forests to fell, mineral wealth under our feet to extract, or of new soils to plough. Instead the Earth has become more like a garden which we realise we need to steward carefully to keep it productive.

We also see another transition, from societies where everyone more or less had the basics to massive inequalities where for instance in the UK, one in 200 is homeless.

At least from a European perspective, where the state is seen as the protector of people and resources, and firms are partners in providing what people need, we can see this a massive market failure.

Continue reading “New E-Book – addressing the market failures arising from the structure of the firm”

Simple quick fixes to capitalism you never knew could be done

My recent article on how come capitalism is an extractive practice, and the later explainer of how it degrades real capital got, for me at least, a lot of interest. Very few, however, asked what could be done about it. Once you know the problem you are a long way to solving it. There are several ways to turn the extractive nature of capitalism around, and they are surprisingly simple. Read on!

Continue reading “Simple quick fixes to capitalism you never knew could be done”

UBI Simulation Game

Some results from alpha testing of the Universal Basic Income simulation game

Together with the Swedish Sustainable Economy Foundation I am developing a Universal basic Income “Business Game“. The idea is to take a simplified, fictive country and play around with various aspects of UBI to learn by doing.

We are into the first alpha testing phase and have produced an overview dashboard to look into what sort of figure we are interested in following as the game progresses

Conditions: raise VAT, lower taxes on wages, start raising UBI, reduction in workforce.

The above run was a force run to see how raising taxes and lowering numbers in work looks in the system. As you see the state gets less to spend on services as income declines. Maybe not so interesting. The next run looks at raising UBI from under minimum standard and just raising VAT.

Conditions: raise UBI from under minimum, raise VAT.

The second run added spending power of UBI takers to the dashboard. If you raise VAT you lower spending power. Interestingly – in the simplified model at least – you get MORE state income and the UBI takers do not get lowered VAT. This gives us a hint that it might be possible to raise UBI and Universal Basic Services, although the UBI eats away at the money available for social costs.

Modelling like this raises many detailed questions and it is a difficult task to make the game engine simple enough to handle in a game situation ( so that you learn basic principles) and complex enough to give a feeling of “real life” (so it feels authentic enough).

Let me know in the comments if there is any logic I am missing or any metric you want to see on the dashboard.

Click here for more articles on the UBI simulation

Time for everyone to talk circular economy

Our analysis of signals of change in the world tell us that there are major changes being called for.

Eliminate poverty – we already decided

The Sustainable Development goals set a new precedent for human development and it is still sinking in that the majority of countries in the world have signed up to eliminating poverty (SDG1) and hunger (SDG2) and eliminating threats to the environment.

Supporting links:

The Sustainable development goals website

Universal Basic Income and Universal Basic Services are being tried and debated as a route to achieving SDG 1.

Supporting links: Article in the Independent on University College of London Report.

A new Green Deal proposes massive investment in a new USA

From the Democratic party, the New Green Deal is the boldest proposal to come from the US for a long time – it will aim to eliminate poverty, create green jobs and transform the technical infrastructure of the US to a circular economy

Supporting links:

The Circular Economy is central to achieving the SDGs and the New Green Deal

The idea has been with us for a while, and it is slowly becoming more and more apparent that nature works in a circular way and society needs to fit in. The possibilities are huge, from green, dignified jobs for all to eradication of pollution to a better life for future generations.

Supporting links: Learn more about the Circular economy at this online school.

Heavy fees on things that pollute like fossil fuel can be a blessing

We are noticing how more and more economists are realizing that a heavy, increasing fee on fossil carbon could stimulate the economy rather than slow it if the fees are paid back to taxpayers. Some estimates point to 70% of citizens being better off under the scheme as those who use fossil fuels are ofter the wealthiest.

Supporting links:

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Monetary theory and a safe house for humanity

Could it be so that it is a badly-constructed monetary system that is holding humanity back? Money theoretician Marc Gauvin offers some interesting angles on money as a system. He suggests that the money system itself impacts peace negatively, but the system could be adapted to be a peace-promoting tool for humanity. We’ll lay out the ideas here and look forward to hearing your comments in the comments box below.

Could it be so that it is a badly-constructed monetary system that is holding humanity back in its shared project of peace on Earth? Or at least this miss-construction is not doing us any good? Marc Gauvin, money theoretician and author of two websites Money Transparency and  Bibo Currency offers some interesting angles on money as a system. In recent correspondence, he suggested that the money system itself impacts peace negatively, but the system could be adapted to be a peace-promoting tool for humanity. We’ll lay out the ideas here and look forward to hearing your comments in the comments box below. Continue reading “Monetary theory and a safe house for humanity”

Opinion: Ericsson divorces Sweden and kills technology

Technology died today. Not the machines, but the paradigm. The belief that delivering high-tech creates jobs, prosperity and shareholder value got killed. The news hit this morning in Sweden’s newspaper SVD among others, that Sweden’s flagship, Ericsson, is shedding thousands of jobs and shutting down manufacturing in Sweden. The decision is sending shock-waves through the municipalities where Ericsson units are one of the largest employers. The likely effect is that whole communities will suffer in a domino effect decimating local suppliers then local services then house prices. And it’s probably the best thing to happen to Sweden for a long while. More on that later. First to the situation. Continue reading “Opinion: Ericsson divorces Sweden and kills technology”

OPINION: Sweden is one step closer to crashing in the chasm

Sweden’s largest exporter, Ericsson, is about to shed all manufacturing in Sweden, sack half its employees and be broken up and sold. This is bad news for sustainable Sweden; with its internet of things and wide R&D capabilities Ericsson has the competence and potential to be a major contributor to the Swedish Government’s ambition to be fossil-emission free by 2045. It seems very few really care to do what is necessary. They would rather let small local initiatives pick up the pieces. That is possibly the best option.

Stephen Hinton 2016
Photo: Maj-Lis Koivisto

According to recent newspaper reports, Sweden’s largest exporter, Ericsson, is about to  – in the worst case – shed all manufacturing in Sweden, sack half its employees and be broken up and sold. This is bad news for sustainable Sweden;  with its internet of things  and wide R&D capabilities Ericsson has the competence and potential to be a major contributor to the Swedish Government’s ambition to be fossil-emission free by 2045.  With this latest news it is looking more and more like Sweden will fail to “cross the chasm” keeping its high material standard. It seems, though, that very few really care to do what is necessary. They would rather let small local initiatives pick up the pieces.

Continue reading “OPINION: Sweden is one step closer to crashing in the chasm”

The economics of the circular economy

Economic Fiscal Reform calls for the economic system to align with the twin purposes of preserving and  indeed restoring the environment whilst providing a standard of living for citizens. Up to now, these purposes have not been central to the way economics has been practiced. We are, however, facing a pressing situation: soil degradation, atmospheric warming and mineral depletion are forcing us to rethink. The idea of the circular economy – where biological and mineral material circulate in the economy without being deposited – is gaining ground. Continue reading “The economics of the circular economy”