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Subtitle: How to run the economy as if the future matters

Coyle considers the challenges of happiness, nature, posterity, fairness and trust. Then the obstacles of measurement, values and institutions. Finally she proposes the manifesto of enough.

Her analysis is one of macro-economics, considering the history of nations, the characteristics of large populations, and large volumes of data. It would be hard to read this book without a working familiarity with at least an outline of recent economic and political history and current affairs. Or sentences will not mean much that include phrases like: "...in the mid-1970s it was the OPEC oil price rise, in 2008 the near collapse of the global financial system." For readers who have that basic understanding of macro-economic affairs the book is not a difficult read.

Coyle argues that: Human happiness does require economic growth. Nature has limits and we are exceeding them, and our future generations will inherit an impoverished world. Posterity, fairness and trust matter, and are ill-served by our current economic and political systems. We need better measurement of the things that matter to human lives, measuring not just money but the ways we spend our time, care, and engage with others. Our systems should better incorporate our non-monetary values. Our institutions should reform to provide better for our needs. And that we should all work together to ensure that we pass on to future generations more wealth than we inherited from past ones.

By considering challenges and obstacles together Coyle is able to propose a set of measures for improving our national and international institutions to better meet our indivdual and collective needs.

I am a systems analyst, and top-down analysis and argument suits me, as perhaps they would not suit everyone. This book starts with first principles, and considers how they are currently applied or neglected. It ends by proposing a set of general measures that should be taken by governments to help improve the state of our world.

Some people would question the axioms of this book, others would find it hopelessly vague. It does not drill down into detail, or identify any one true way, nor make specific prescriptions. Instead it suggests that the necessary work be done by many different people bringing their own experience and values to bear in their own countries. Coyle does not suppose that she has all the answers, but I think the thinking is sound, the proposals sensible, and that they could indeed be implemented to help us to make the world a better place. I do hope people are reading it.


( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
10th Jul, 2015 03:46 (UTC)
This sounds really interesting. I hope I know enough about macro economics for it to make sense to me.

Thanks for the detailed recommendation!
10th Jul, 2015 13:58 (UTC)
You will be fine with it. It doesn't need detailed knowledge - just a rough idea of the significance of certain buzzwords and events.
10th Jul, 2015 07:59 (UTC)
Coyle argues that: Human happiness does require economic growth

This is patently true to anyone with a brain. Unfortunately, cynical me thinks that the current economic system benefits the already rich and powerful. Therefore the people who have the ability to change the system have no incentive to do so because it's serving them very nicely at the moment, thank you very much. :(
10th Jul, 2015 13:59 (UTC)
Coyle is arguing (not uncritically) that our existing governmental and international systems do not serve us very well, whether we are rich or poor. So some changes are in all our interests.
13th Jul, 2015 21:02 (UTC)
Is there a "not" missing?
14th Jul, 2015 07:34 (UTC)
I don't think so. What were you thinking of?
14th Jul, 2015 11:36 (UTC)
I consider it obvious that human happiness does *not* require economic growth. Unless there's a missing "not", then Helen and I are both wrong, since two intelligent people have opposite positions on an economic question.
14th Jul, 2015 11:52 (UTC)
Ah. Ok.

Yes, I said what I meant to say: Coyle argues that overall human happiness _does_ require economic growth, and that arguments that decouple them are flawed. I've taken the book back to the library now, so I'll have to tell you to go read the book for the details of that argument.

So essentially that then becomes one of the axioms behind the manifesto, because you are trying to improve systems that include economic growth, not take growth out of the systems.
14th Jul, 2015 14:28 (UTC)
Thanks. btw I see I missed a phrase out of my own reply: I meant to convey we must both be wrong about our positions being obvious, since each was not obvious to the other.
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )


Caroline M

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