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Dr. Katherine Trebeck explains to us some reasons why we should believe the future of the economy should be a wellbeing economy. In her opinion, achievements of economic growth have come when we have used the fruits of growth to invest in our collective institutions like health and education systems and when we have direct them to those who need it most. She highlights that the real challenge is the question: Are those fruits of growth beginning to rot? She says that the assumption: ʺThe economic growth that went may have worked some of the time, in some places is automatically the right recipe for the future.” is dangerous for three reasons. Firstly she compares, just like with the substance of salt, if we keep reaching for more and more of salt or after economic growth has done its job, the benefits start to tail off the returns and become marginal so we end up doing damage to ourselves, to our planet and to our society. It's also a dangerous assumption because of something called failure demand, the extent to which so much of what we're now spending our money on is to fix and repair and clean up and try and patch up the damage that our growth and, the third reason is that just as individuals try to fulfil the very innate human need for social connection through consumption and materialistic goods, we won't meet our needs for very natural desires like decent work, secure livelihood and a quality natural environment just by reaching for economic growth as GDP and economic growth are pseudo satisfiers.
This talk was delivered prior to covid-19, where issues such as climate change and different forms of inequality demonstrated the flaws in the way we measure economic progress. Covid-19 has reinforced this view but also offers an opportunity for renewal, a time akin to the situation post-WW2, to alter the economic system for people and planet by changing how we measure progress. Ideas of economists such as Dr Trebeck are certainly among those that should be listened to.