David Blackburn

Coming in 2011: A call to arms

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Jeffrey Sachs wants a revolution. The renowned economist has developed a Malthusian touch in The Value of Everything. He is adamant that resource scarcity is upon us and here to stay unless the globe transforms its consumption and production, radically.

Beyond the doomsaying, Sachs’ book is a robust critique of the study of economics and the preoccupations of government. Mainstream economics and policy have obsessed about monetarism and fiscal policy since the early 80s, if not back to Keynes himself. Shocks in the realms of market and government are seismic and they extend to heap misery on the most humble and isolated, but this approach cannot arrest the depth and complexity of human economic interaction, especially in an era of hyper-connectivity and ever-multiplying demand. The new economics, Sachs argues, must be more holistic and inter-disciplinary. Infrastructure, geography, history, population, migration and urbanisation are every bit as valuable as geopolitics and high government. Sustainability will require many forms of innovation.