Degrowth Vienna 2020 – Let’s Talk: Debt meets Degrowth


The idea of the workshop Let’s Talk: Debt Meets Degrowth is to bring closer together two interlinked (international) communities, one working on debt and the other on degrowth, that share the same policy agenda, but had not had many opportunities to advance their common strategic debates. Many conferences and debates on debt or degrowth have taken place, but without sufficient communication and collaboration between the two communities. To build on this momentum and bring cooperation to a new, stronger and more creative level, therefore invited actors from the debt and degrowth movements come together and talk, share their understanding of ongoing work, exchange their experience in political and social organizing and, most importantly, discuss possibilities for collaboration. The Covid-19 crisis is already unleashing a debt crisis in the global South. How can calls for a debt jubilee be amplified by the degrowth movement, and how will policies employed in the global North in the wake of Covid-19 support, rather than further derail a just transition in the South? We are currently in the midst of a climate emergency. Economic growth is a fundamental driver of climate and ecological breakdown. Now more than ever, we must move beyond GDP growth as a measure of societal well-being in order to reduce the material and energy throughput of our economy and move towards greater social justice. Our current debt-fuelled monetary and financial system, however, presents a pro-growth bias while fostering inequality and instability. Therefore, the status quo of money and finance is one of the impasses to achieving an environmentally sustainable and socially just economy. It is essential that we develop a deep understanding of the links between money, growth, environment and inequality, and collaborate in our efforts to identify avenues for further research and action on money and finance. Such avenues may include, for example, green investment programmes, public banking, overt monetary financing, complementary currencies, modern debt jubilees, and international monetary reform. In bringing together thought-leaders in this field, we hope to have a productive conversation about where we ought to focus our efforts in escaping growth dependency.

Presenters: Tilman Hartley (ICTA, AUB), Mark Perera (EURODAD), Ajda Pistotnik (EnaBanda Association)

Language: English with German translation

Technical details: WS J3_Let’s talk.mp4, MPEG-4 video, 186MB

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Degrowth Vienna 2020 – Work

Standard session (discussion following three presentations)

  1. Work time reduction in a degrowth context: for the North or for all?
    Currently, most of the calls for work time reduction in a degrowth context focus on the global North and disregard the global South. I argue that advocating for work time reduction as a shared interest between North and South socio-environmental movements could contribute to increased global solidarity and sympathy for the degrowth framework in the South. As an attempt to contribute to the challenge of coherently incorporating “work time reduction with the South” into the degrowth framework, I explore some of the limits and premises of different positions found in the academic literature.
    Presenters: Gabriel Trettel Silva (Modul University Vienna)
  2. Can Working Time Reduction Make Societal Transition Sustainable?
    A relevant curtailment of carbon emissions follows productivity-led working time reduction: increases in labour productivity converted into less work hours. We apply a simulation model and compare three scenarios to conclude that a greater reduction in emissions results in smaller employment gains.
    Presenters: Andre Cieplinski (University of Pisa)
  3. Recipes for degrowth: Policies for transforming property, work, and money
    In this session I design a policy agenda for degrowth in a French context around the three specific themes of property, work, and money. The hypothesis I make is that operationalising degrowth means transforming these three institutions, that is redesigning them according to the three values (autonomy, sufficiency, and care) and fifteen principles that I ascribe to the idea of degrowth. The outcome is a transition programme for degrowth including 9 goals, 31 objectives, and a diversity of policy instruments gathered in 9 bundles.
    Presenters: Tim Parrique (University of Clermont Auvergne)

Language: English

Technical details: Standard G_Work.mp4, MPEG-4 video, 343MB

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First North-South Conference on Degrowth-Descrecimiento, México City 2018 – Como el capitalismo afirma su hegemonía; el modo de vida imperial como promesa de riqueza imposible

Conferencia de la Plenaria del Jueves por Ulrich Brand: “Cómo el capitalismo afirma su hegemonía: El modo de vida imperial como promesa de riqueza imposible”

First North-South Conference on Degrowth-Descrecimiento, México City 2018 – Extractivismo, generación de riqueza?

Conferencia de la Plenaria del Jueves por Aleida Azamar: “Extractivismo, ¿generación de riqueza?”

First North-South Conference on Degrowth-Descrecimiento, México City 2018 – Crítica de la riqueza capitalista

Conferencia de la Plenaria del Jueves por Henry Mora: “Crítica de la riqueza capitalista”

Policies for Equality Under Low or No Growth: A Model Inspired by Piketty

GDP growth is declining in industrial economies, and there is increasing evidence that growth may be environmentally unsustainable. If growth falls below returns to wealth then inequalities increase, as Thomas Piketty recently showed. This poses a challenge to managing slow and/or negative growth. Here, we examine policies that have been proposed to solve the problem of increasing income inequality in slow- or non-growing economies, including redistribution, taxation, and employment reforms. We construct a simple model, expanding Piketty’s recent work, to evaluate the parameter ranges within which these different policies can be effective. Our analysis leads to two main findings. First, except in the case of complete wealth equality, any strategy to prevent increasing income inequality must reduce returns to wealth below the rate of growth. Second, several strategies may prevent an increase in income inequality during periods of low growth and may slow rising inequality, but not prevent it, in non-growing economies.

Review of Political Economy, 26 June 2020

Triumph der Ungerechtigkeit: Wie wir Steueroasen und Steuerdumping beenden können

Mitschnitt der 36. Ausgabe von Europe Calling, dem europäischen Online-Diskussionsformat von Sven Giegold MdEP. Thema war am 27.2.2020: “Triumph der Ungerechtigkeit: Wie wir Steueroasen und Steuerdumping beenden können” mit Star-Ökonom und Autor Gabriel Zucman und EU-Steuerexpertin Catherine Olier. Moderation von Sven Giegold MEP.

Recording of the 36th session of Europe Calling, the European Online-Discussion Format by Sven Giegold MEP. On 27 Feb 2020 the topic was: “The Triumph of Injustice: How we can end tax havens and tax dumping” with star economist and author Gabriel Zucman und EU tax expert Catherine Olier. Moderated by Sven Giegold MEP.

Degrowth Conference Budapest, 2016 – Non-Monetary Degrowth is Strategically Significant

Presentation by Anitra Nelson

Even for many radical adherents of degrowth, money is a common-sense — not simply capitalist — tool, so alternative currencies and banks abound. This paper argues against this common-sense logic, as follows. The most direct and efficient form of degrowth requires as-local-as-is-feasible production focusing on people’s basic needs, implying that future distribution is decided simultaneously with collectively agreeing on productive goals and ways of achieving them. Say, each person contributes a number of hours to collective production as a community obligation and, in return, has their basic needs met. Decision-making focuses on bio-physical, environmental and social measures and values; complex bio-physical and social efficiency is paramount in limiting throughput in production and associated exchanges. As a result, money has no place in degrowth, where grassroots political decision-making replaces production for trade and market exchanges. Similarly, so-called ‘alternative’ currencies that serve functions of legal tender or the ‘universal equivalent’ on which capitalism depends, are redundant. In non-monetary degrowth, reward for work is the security of having life-long basic needs met with continuous input in making decisions on both local production and the terms of exchange (compacts) with as-local-as-feasible neighbour-producers. There is personal, but no private, property: the entire Earth is commons with clear, efficient and universal principles and terms for commoning. Such a vision suggests that advancing specifically non-monetary degrowth — consciously breaking with monetary production and exchange — is of crucial strategic significance.

Degrowth Conference Budapest, 2016 – How to stop monetary growth pressure?

Presentation by Mark Joób

Generally, there is not enough awareness of the central role the monetary system plays with regard to sustainability. One of the main reasons is that for several decades economics has been dominated by a monetary theory that gives a false description of the monetary system and the role of money in the economy. Assuming that money on the macroeconomic level is basically neutral, traditional monetary theory does not recognize the negative impacts of the current money and banking system on society and the environment.

In reality, money created as debt carries interest and thereby contributes to a twofold growth pressure on the monetary system and on the real economy. Debtors need more money than they have borrowed because they also have to pay interest on their loans. In addition, business on the whole cannot be profitable unless the quantity of money continuously increases. This leads to the dynamics of growth which is a core characteristic of our economic system. The increase in the quantity of interest-bearing money exerts a monetary growth pressure on the real economy and the growth of the real economy simultaneously exerts an anti-deflationary growth pressure on the money supply. The growth of the real economy, which is to a great extent forced by the monetary system, involves an excessive exploitation of natural resources and is a hindrance to sustainable development. Financial indebtedness thus leads to ecological indebtedness towards nature, which impoverishes mankind.

Against economics

A book review by David Graeber of Robert Skidelsky’s new book Money and Government: The Past and Future of Economics

Faire l’économie de la haine. Essais sur la censure

Point de haine de l’économie là où on nous fait aimer l’argent, à tout prix. Point de haine de l’économie, mais une économie de la haine. Le programme: faire l’économie de la haine. Haïr sans qu’il n’y paraisse. Ainsi s’investit-on dans l’asservissement à l’argent. Sous les données, sous les calculs et sous la spéculation : des crimes, du sang, du vol et des morts, mais assourdis par ce savoir économique et ses prérogatives légales. Car l’argent fait écran: faut-il délocaliser des usines, licencier du personnel, polluer des rivières, contourner le fisc, soutenir des dictatures ou armer des chefs de guerre pour que le prix d’une action monte en Bourse? Cette culture de l’argent nous autorise précisément à faire l’économie de ces questions, sur le mode de l’autocensure. Alain Deneault tire un à un les fils de cette censure diffuse, pour s’émanciper du filtre marchand qui codifie le social.

Post-Growth Conference, Brussels 2018 – Workshop Sustainable Fiscal Consolidation

Chair : Philippe Lamberts, MEP (Greens/EFA)
Panellists: Elisabeth Hege (IDDRI, Governance and financing of sustainable development), Gaël Giraud (French Development Agency, senior economist), Marco Buti (European Commission, Director General of DG EcFin)

Post-Growth Conference, Brussels 2018 – Workshop Money, Debt and Interest Rates in a Post-Growth Economy

Chair: Molly Scott-Cato, MEP (Greens/EFA)
Panellists: Fran Boait (Positive Money, Executive Director), Josh Ryan-Collins (UCL Institution for Innovation and Public Purpose, Head of Research), Thorsten Guthke (Association of German Public Banks, VÖB)

Dr. Stuart Newman: “It Seems to Me That We Are Headed for A Techno-Eugenic Future”

An interview with Dr. Stuart Newman on the excesses of biotechnology and its ramifications with the world of money. Newman is a professor of cell biology and anatomy at New York Medical College in Valhalla, NY, United States.