With climate catastrophes in the news on a regular basis, we thought this 2017 interview was worth revisiting. Drs Philip Lawn and Steven Hail are Australian modern monetary theorists who focus much of their work on the economics of resolving the climate crisis.
As an ecological economist, Lawn believes that the economy cannot grow forever because growth requires continual use of resources and constantly generates waste. He claims that a non-growing economy can still improve and likens it to a human being. The body stops growing around age 20, but one can continue to develop as a person.
Hail calls himself an agnostic regarding growth, but believes we need to have the discussion. He is interested in looking at people’s levels of life satisfaction and well-being and how this relates to GDP.
It is interesting to find that these two are not in lock step regarding growth. There’s something reassuring about knowing that MMT has reached the point where such differences can exist. Both Lawn and Hail say that the good news is that governments can afford to deficit spend for the purposes of creating full employment. Perhaps countries like the US and Australia do not need to grow their GDP; perhaps it’s a question of distribution.
This fascinating three-way interview goes on to look at differences and similarities between the US and Australia and other, less developed, economies. They delve into complex questions that have no simple solutions. But, as Dr. Hail says, we must begin the discussion.
Dr. Philip Lawn is a Research Officer at the Southgate Institute for Health, Society and Equity at Flinders University. In addition, he is a Visiting Lecturer in the School of Economics at the University of Adelaide, a Research Scholar at the Global Institute for Sustainable Prosperity, and a member of the Wakefield Futures Group of Concerned Scientists.
Dr. Steven Hail is a Lecturer in Economics at the University of Adelaide, where he has lectured in financial and macroeconomic since 2002. He is also a Research Scholar at the Institute for Sustainable Prosperity.