Fruit des recherches menées depuis 40 ans par Olivier Godard et des enseignements qu’il dispense dans diverses écoles supérieures de grande réputation, ce livre offre une vue d’ensemble de la problématique environnementale contemporaine à partir d’une mise en confrontation de l’économie de l’environnement, de la théorie des systèmes complexes et de la théorie de la justification. L’approche « méta-économique » proposée ici, appliquée aux enjeux environnementaux, considère l’économie (réelle et théorique) comme un système en ...
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Dans La Grande Crise. Comment en sortir autrement publié début 2015 en France, James K. Galbraith, économiste américain et fils de John K. Galbraith, dresse une analyse de la fin du cycle de croissance économique forte. Rien de temporaire à cet épisode engagé depuis les années 2000, c’est bel et bien la croissance de l’après-guerre qui constitue selon lui un épiphénomène dans une perspective historique. Avec une lecture historique des dynamiques économiques d’après-guerre aux États-Unis, il propose ...
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L’addiction au service du marketing ? Ce livre présente une démarche permettant d’attirer et de fidéliser le client ou le consommateur. Cette stratégie vise à ce que celui-ci ait un contact fréquent avec le produit ou le service, sur le long terme, en s’appuyant sur la formation d’habitudes qui deviennent inconscientes au fil du temps. Le modèle proposé par Nir Eyal est divisé en quatre étapes : le déclencheur, l’action, la récompense et l’investissement. Ce modèle ...
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With the next Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP) coming up in Paris in late 2015, it is probably a good time to examine the philosophical foundations underpinning discussions on the –largely economic– mechanisms likely to modify the behaviour of the main greenhouse-gas emitters. That is, at any rate, the aim of this article by Frédéric-Paul Piguet on the notion of “climate justice”, which questions the pertinence of emissions rights and permits, and examines how the limits of the biosphere should be respected, on the basis of the principle of not doing harm to others.
After reminding us of the principles of distributive justice as this applies in the environmental field, Piguet demonstrates the inability of that theory to confront the biosphere for what it is: namely, the fundamental precondition for humanity’s common good, which must be respected in a way that transcends the generations, its equilibrium taking precedence over all other considerations, including the economic. Applying this conception, the limits of the biosphere must not be evaluated in terms of a “sociologized” judgment, as is the case at the moment, but an “ecologized” one, “recognizing the part of the biosphere that isn’t available for humanity’s use and mustn’t be touched.” Hence the impossibility of distributing emissions rights for the levels that infringe on this untouchable part, and the inadequacy of theories of distributive justice in this regard. Stressing the fact that the capacities of the biosphere cannot be treated as extendable “spoils” to be shared out, he sees the prohibition on doing harm as the principle that can set the biosphere in its rightful place as the fundamental precondition for the common good. Consequently, high levels of emissions can only be granted a “transitory tolerance” that underscores their lack of legitimacy.
The question of the origins of the wealth of nations has nagged at the mind of many an economist since the first modern contribution to the theme by Adam Smith in 1776. From Angus Maddison to Amartya Sen, by way of Joseph Stiglitz, Jared Diamond or Tony Atkinson, many have tried to offer some sort of answer or to propose arguments capable of explaining inequalities in socio-economic development between countries. In a work published in 2008 (An Introduction to Modern Economic Growth, Princeton: Princeton University Press), the economist Daron Acemoglu identified four fundamental causes of economic growth: natural environment, culture, institutions and luck. He has gone further into this question, with the assistance of James Robinson, in Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty (New York: Crown Publishing Group), published in late 2012.
This work has given fresh stimulus to the debate on the origins of international economic inequalities (particularly on account of one of its conclusions –that Chinese economic growth can be expected to falter without major institutional reform in that country) and Charles du Granrut outlines it for us here. He focuses specifically on the factor the authors regard as essential for guaranteeing sustained economic development –“inclusive” political institutions– and cites various examples in support of their argument. Without neglecting the originality of their approach, he compares it to that taken in an earlier, similarly conceived work (Violence and Social Orders by D.C. North, J.J. Wallis and B.R. Weingast) and highlights some limitations of their analysis.
In an increasingly demanding context of climate change, exhaustion of fossil energy resources and sustained economic crisis, a concept is gradually gaining ground, the concept of “green growth”, which aims to promote an environmentally-friendly form of economic development. “Greening” economic growth means developing ecological activity, investing in renewable energies and in improving yields from energy and materials use etc. However, moving from the political declaration of such ambitions to their realization is something that has not yet been done convincingly, particularly in Europe. To make that move, we would need a solid vision of the economic model that properly applies to “green growth”.
Pierre-André Jouvet and Christian de Perthuis have examined the subject and present their economic analysis of such growth in this article. They stress, initially, that we have moved from a “rarity barrier” where resources are concerned to an “environmental barrier –in other words, from a physical limit associated with a store of resources to a limit associated with human capabilities to regulate the natural system. It is actually becoming essential to integrate natural capital into the factors of production (alongside capital and labour). This implies that investments can be made to improve this factor of production. It also implies that natural capital comes into play in the distribution of wealth between factors of production.
Yet, as Jouvet and de Perthuis argue, most initiatives implemented in the name of green growth are, for the moment, cosmetic and do not truly bring the environment into the productive system. Hence they have little chance of sparking a new economic dynamic. Real change can come only from the remuneration of natural capital by reallocating the incomes from both labour and capital on a basis proportional to their initial contributions to environmental pollution. With this aim in mind, the authors propose various courses of action –expanding the concept of efficiency, effecting “ecological transition”, incorporating fairness into ecological choices etc.– and show what financial levers are available for achieving green growth.
The psychologist Daniel Kahneman, Nobel prize-winner for economics in 2002, has contributed to some notable advances in economic theory with his work on “prospect theory”, which goes to the heart of behavioural economics, and, more recently, with his work on the economics of happiness. In a book that appeared in the USA in 2011, Thinking, Fast and Slow, he presents the core of his analyses and theories in a highly concrete form.
Charles du Granrut has read this work for Futuribles and offers a critical review of it here. He begins by outlining the two main styles of thinking of individuals, as Kahneman conceives them –fast and intuitive and/or slow and rational– before going on to note the main “cognitive biases” that are likely, in his view, to impair reasoning (errors, incoherence, prejudices, the halo effect....). Du Granrut then runs through the various criticisms that have been levelled at this analysis of the decision-making process. He also describes Kahneman’s prospect theory and the way it has been applied within the framework of “liberal paternalism” through the “nudge” concept. Lastly, he notes the contribution made by Kahneman’s analyses of individuals’ perceptions of happiness, not just in the economic field but also, and most importantly, in the area of public policy. All in all, Kahneman’s work is now often integrated into traditional economic theory, while enabling us all to be aware of –and hence potentially forearmed against– the various biases inherent in human thinking.