Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Some thoughts on radical environmentalism and heterodox economics

Ecological economics emerged in the 1970s, as a sub-field of mainstream economics, using some of the conventional tools of neoclassical economics, but trying to move away from it, not only regarding some of the theoretical choices, but also distancing from some of the ethical concerns of the mainstream (Holt and Spash, 2009). Even though there were precursors to ecological economics, in particular the work of Kenneth Boulding, Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen and Karl William Kapp, it is clear that the profound crisis of capitalism in the early 1970s, and the preoccupations with population growth, famine, and exhaustible resources, exacerbated by the oil shocks, were central for the sudden prominence of environmental concerns within the economics profession.  Paul Ehrlich’s book, The Population Bomb, and the celebrated report on The Limits to Growth, published by a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) team and the Club of Rome marked a significant cultural shift, and the beginning of the international concern with the ecological limitations of human activity.

The 1970s was also a period of significant macroeconomic turbulence, with the collapse of Bretton Woods, stagflation and a crisis that brought about the end so-called Keynesian Consensus. It was in this period of crisis of Keynesian economics that an heterodox alternative to the mainstream was developed. In part for that reason, Ecological Economics is seen as being critical, and part of the broader heterodox tradition. But their are good reasons to be skeptical about this view.

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Podcast with about the never ending crisis in Argentina

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