Economics: March 2009 Archives

Delusional and pathological.

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alternativeroute.jpgThe Sunday Herald had an advance on today's landmark report from the Sustainable Development Commission (press release), which describes Ministers' attempts to rebuild the same failed economic system, built on growth at all costs, as "delusional" and "pathological". 

These are delusions and pathologies the SNP share with Westminster. The Nats describe their central purpose as "sustainable economic growth". Sustainable should mean "designed to work within our long-term ecological capacity", but here it's a proper weasel word, meaning something they would like to sustain.

In particular, they suffer from the delusion that they can engage on the biggest road-building and airport expansion programme Scotland has seen since the 1960s and still meet any kind of carbon emissions targets. New roads plus new public transport does not reduce emissions, and to think so displays a pathological misunderstanding of some pretty basic science and economics.

Although they're government-funded, the SDC have clearly had enough of being polite about abject government failures of this sort, both north and south of the border. In a quote that would fit well on the cover of a Green manifesto, Professor Jackson, the report's author, says:

"Prosperity for the few founded on ecological destruction and persistent social injustice is no foundation for a civilised society."

They're so on the same page as us that I even lifted their perfect image (above).

By coincidence, Holyrood debated the economy last Thursday. The patchy and limited understanding of sustainability across the chamber makes it pretty depressing fare - the usual exceptions apply. I fear we'll wait a long time before we have a Scottish Government which even understands the problems we face, let alone capable of pursuing constructive answers to them.
rbsgiant.jpgToday's reports that Not-Sir Fred Goodwin's house has been vandalised are upsetting. 

No-one wants to see mob rule, except perhaps the mob. Personally, I prefer democracy.

It's also absurd to blame one man, no matter how grasping, for the massive systemic problems supported and facilitated by Governments of all colours, north and south of the border.

Having said that, if one absolutely had to suggest a form of vandalism for his house, wouldn't Rory McInnes's approach have been a better idea? Or something similar? 

(note: I am also not encouraging vandalism of the Cerne Abbas Giant)

It's all about the Benjamins.

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benfranklin.jpgWriting about the diminished number of billionaires yesterday took me into the realm of trillions of dollars - the remaining 793 of them being worth a collective $2.4tn. A trillion bucks is such a mind-bending sum of money: thank goodness someone's illustrated what it looks like in c-notes. 

That final image is two pallets high. If the billionaires pooled their wealth, you'd need to go almost five pallets high. 

For contrast, here's a trillion pennies stacked up. (via MetaFilter)

Sharing the pain.

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champagnesmash.jpgForbes reports that this year there are just 793 people on its rich list, down from 1,125 last year. That's almost 30% fewer billionaires, and many of those that remain have taken a substantial financial hit from the global meltdown. 

Warren Buffett, for instance, is down from $62bn to $37bn, not even the annual GDP of Uruguay

Between them the remaining billionaires are now worth just $2.4tn, which is a bit more than Britain's annual GDP but a chunk less than Germany's (those last three links all to a GDP table). 

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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Economics category from March 2009.

Economics: February 2009 is the previous archive.

Economics: September 2009 is the next archive.