Zombie economics and the third recession

It is dispiriting to realise that we are probably entering our third recession in nine years – 2008, 2012 and now 2017. When will we learn to break the cycle? The newspaper article below from the 2012 recession could have been written yesterday.

Why has so little changed?

The ‘zombie economics’ identified soon after the 2008 crash still dominates the political debate. Nine years on and we are still trying more austerity, near-zero interest rates, quantitative easing to give to companies, increasing inequality, property asset bubbles, and cutbacks for non-elderly poorer people, education and health care.

Of course, Brexit is the new ingredient this time round and in some quarters it is a big enough issue to drown out all other economic debates and memories. Like many people I wish the Brexit vote had been different, and that the current debate on ‘what comes next’ would be more honest. To read of senior civil servants talk about Empire 2.0 is frankly horrible and embarrassing.

But Brexit is just one aspect of the economic pressures we face. The indications are now of GDP-measured growth falling further as we head into a trading future which many reasonable people acknowledge will be worse than we have now. Students on economics degree courses at universities in England set up Post-Crash Economics Societies, critiquing their rote learning of just one orthodox economic model when at least nine models are known to exist.

Economically, 2008 onwards to 2017 have been our lost years. Only by learning new economic realities, such as aiming for sustainable growth, can we break the cycle. Given the attacks on the welfare state, left wing groups are understandably nervous of any economic changes being used as a smokescreen to attack our common services like the NHS.

But change is required. I suggest we need a combined model reflecting rainbow economics for a fairer system, promoting the interests of:

  • environment
  • equality and fairness
  • feminism
  • internationalism
  • people and communities
  • small enterprises,

and not

  • zombie one-trick economists.


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