The Infinite Desire for Growth

Princeton University Press
Free sample

Why society’s expectation of economic growth is no longer realistic

Economic growth--and the hope of better things to come—is the religion of the modern world. Yet its prospects have become bleak, with crashes following booms in an endless cycle. In the United States, eighty percent of the population has seen no increase in purchasing power over the last thirty years and the situation is not much better elsewhere. The Infinite Desire for Growth spotlights the obsession with wanting more, and the global tensions that have arisen as a result. Amid finite resources, increasing populations, environmental degradation, and political unrest, the quest for new social and individual goals has never been so critical.

Leading economist Daniel Cohen provides a whirlwind tour of the history of economic growth, from the early days of civilization to modern times, underscoring what is so unsettling today. The new digital economy is establishing a "zero-cost" production model, inexpensive software is taking over basic tasks, and years of exploiting the natural world have begun to backfire with deadly consequences. Working hard no longer guarantees social inclusion or income. Drawing on economics, anthropology, and psychology, and thinkers ranging from Rousseau to Keynes and Easterlin, Cohen examines how a future less dependent on material gain might be considered and, how, in a culture of competition, individual desires might be better attuned to the greater needs of society.

At a time when wanting what we haven't got has become an obsession, The Infinite Desire for Growth explores the ways we might reinvent, for the twenty-first century, the old ideal of social progress.

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About the author

Daniel Cohen is director of the Economics Department at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris and a founding member of the Paris School of Economics. A former adviser to the World Bank, Cohen was made a Chevalier of the Legion of Honor in 2001. His many books include Globalization and Its Enemies and The Prosperity of Vice.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Jun 12, 2018
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Pages
184
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ISBN
9781400889495
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Language
English
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Genres
Business & Economics / Development / Economic Development
Business & Economics / Economics / General
Business & Economics / Economics / Macroeconomics
Social Science / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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The bestselling author of The Death of Money and Currency Wars reveals the global elites' dark effort to hide a coming catastrophe from investors in The Road to Ruin, now a National Bestseller.
 
A drumbeat is sounding among the global elites. The signs of a worldwide financial meltdown are unmistakable. This time, the elites have an audacious plan to protect themselves from the fallout: hoarding cash now and locking down the global financial system when a crisis hits.
 
Since 2014, international monetary agencies have been issuing warnings to a small group of finance ministers, banks, and private equity funds: the U.S. government’s cowardly choices not to prosecute J.P. Morgan and its ilk, and to bloat the economy with a $4 trillion injection of easy credit, are driving us headlong toward a cliff.
 
As Rickards shows in this frightening, meticulously researched book, governments around the world have no compunction about conspiring against their citizens. They will have stockpiled hard assets when stock exchanges are closed, ATMs shut down, money market funds frozen, asset managers instructed not to sell securities, negative interest rates imposed, and cash withdrawals denied.
 
If you want to plan for the risks ahead, you will need Rickards’s cutting-edge synthesis of behavioral economics, history, and complexity theory. It’s a guidebook to thinking smarter, acting faster, and living with the comfort­ing knowledge that your wealth is secure.
 
The global elites don’t want this book to exist. Their plan to herd us like sheep to the slaughter when a global crisis erupts—and, of course, to maintain their wealth—works only if we remain complacent and unaware. Thanks to The Road to Ruin, we don’t need to be.

"If you are curious about what the financial Götterdämmerung might look like you’ve certainly come to the right place... Rickards believes -- and provides tantalizing snippets of private conversations with those who dwell in the very eye-in-the-pyramid -- that the current world monetary and financial system is on the verge of insolvency and that the world financial elites already have a successor system for which they are laying the groundwork."
--Ralph Benko, Forbes
The West has long defined the pursuit of happiness in economic terms but now, in the wake of the 2007-8 financial crisis, it is time to think again about what constitutes our happiness.

In this wide-ranging new book, the leading economist Daniel Cohen traces our current malaise back to the rise of homo economicus: for the last 200 years, the modern world has defined happiness in terms of material gain. Homo economicus has cast aside its rivals, homo ethicus and homo empathicus, and spread its neo-Darwinian logic far and wide. Yet, instead of bringing happiness, homo economicus traps human beings in a world devoid of any ideals. We are left feeling empty and dissatisfied.

Today more and more people are beginning to recognize that competition and material gain are not the only things that matter in life. The central paradox of our era is that we look to the economy to give direction to our world at the very time when social needs are migrating toward sectors that are hard to place within the scope of market logic. Health, education, scientific research, and the world of the Internet form the heart of our post-industrial societies, but none of these belong to the traditional economic mould. While human creativity is higher than ever, homo economicus imposes himself like a sad prophet, a killjoy of the new age.

Drawing on a rich array of examples, Cohen explores the new digital and genetic revolutions and examines the limitations of homo economicus in our rapidly transforming world. As human beings have an extraordinary ability to adapt, he argues that we need to rebalance the relation between competition and cooperation in favour of the latter.

This thought-provoking analysis of our contemporary predicament will be of great value to anyone interested in the relationship between what happens in our economies and our personal happiness.
In 1972, three scientists from MIT created a computer model that analyzed global resource consumption and production. Their results shocked the world and created stirring conversation about global 'overshoot,' or resource use beyond the carrying capacity of the planet. Now, preeminent environmental scientists Donnella Meadows, Jorgen Randers, and Dennis Meadows have teamed up again to update and expand their original findings in The Limits to Growth: The 30 Year Global Update.

Meadows, Randers, and Meadows are international environmental leaders recognized for their groundbreaking research into early signs of wear on the planet. Citing climate change as the most tangible example of our current overshoot, the scientists now provide us with an updated scenario and a plan to reduce our needs to meet the carrying capacity of the planet.

Over the past three decades, population growth and global warming have forged on with a striking semblance to the scenarios laid out by the World3 computer model in the original Limits to Growth. While Meadows, Randers, and Meadows do not make a practice of predicting future environmental degradation, they offer an analysis of present and future trends in resource use, and assess a variety of possible outcomes.

In many ways, the message contained in Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update is a warning. Overshoot cannot be sustained without collapse. But, as the authors are careful to point out, there is reason to believe that humanity can still reverse some of its damage to Earth if it takes appropriate measures to reduce inefficiency and waste.

Written in refreshingly accessible prose, Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update is a long anticipated revival of some of the original voices in the growing chorus of sustainability. Limits to Growth: The 30 Year Update is a work of stunning intelligence that will expose for humanity the hazy but critical line between human growth and human development.

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