Monetary adaptation to planetary emergency: addressing the monetary growth imperative

Arnsperger, Christian, Bendell, Jem ORCID logo ORCID: and Slater, Matthew (2021) Monetary adaptation to planetary emergency: addressing the monetary growth imperative. Institute for Leadership and Sustainability (IFLAS) Occasional Papers Volume 8. University of Cumbria, Ambleside, UK.. (Unpublished)

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Background: The existence of a Monetary Growth Imperative (MGI) and its implications for economic stability, democracy and environmental sustainability have been put forward by environmental economists for around two decades but recently criticised as invalid. Given the urgency of the climate and ecological crisis alongside spiralling public and private debt, the MGI deserves closer attention.

Methods: For this review paper we analysed studies on the MGI, using a selective, iterative approach to the literature review.

Results: Our critical review of the research on the MGI revealed several full academic treatments of the argument and even a taxonomy of them, most of which have not been refuted. We articulate one of them in a new way, as well as two more which have not received academic treatment, before considering why it might be thought politically expedient that any MGI should be refuted, or at least seen to be refuted.

Conclusion: In any economy where money hoarding and accumulation is not curtailed, and where most of the money in circulation is issued by private banks as debt, with or without interest, there will be a system-wide scarcity of money available to people and organisations to service their debts – unless, that is, there is continual economic growth. To avoid the deleterious implications of a shortfall of money in an economy, policies are used to maintain economic growth, which is therefore a form of imperative on society. This MGI may be accentuated, at a system-wide level, by the practice of full-reserve re-lending of money. Interest is not the main driver of the imperative, but because it increases the transfer of money to those who are wealthy and more likely to hold that money in a stagnant form that is not available for debt servicing by others, interest charges may indeed exacerbate the MGI. We conclude that the debt-money system creates a competition for money between debtors and savers which is resolved through creation of more debt-money, which in turn drives growth and the resulting ecological and climate emergency.

Item Type: Report
Publisher: University of Cumbria
Departments: Institute of Business, Industry and Leadership > Institute for Leadership and Sustainability (IFLAS)
Depositing User: Christian Stretton
Date Deposited: 09 Mar 2021 09:51
Last Modified: 13 Jan 2024 12:00


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