Pioneering new research from the Club of Rome
In 1972, the first Report for the Club of Rome The Limits to Growth famously spelled out the unsustainable consequences of an economic system that demands infinite growth in a finite world.
Just as The Limits to Growth exposed the catastrophic flaws in our economic system, this new Report from the Club of Rome exposes the systemic flaws in our money system and the wrong thinking that underpins it. It describes the ongoing currency and banking crises we must expect if we continue with the current monopoly system and the vicious impact of these crises on our communities, our society as a whole and our environment. It finishes by setting out clear, practical proposals for creating a money ecosystem with complementary currencies to support and stabilise the current money system.
Greece and the eurozone crisis: the authors show that one of these proposals (Civics) could be applied, on the ground, now, across Europe, to reduce unemployment, mitigate the adverse social effects of the currency crisis and create a sustainable and flexible money system for the future. This alone makes it essential reading for policy makers, business leaders and economists, anybody concerned about sustainability (environmental, social, climate change), those working in the fields of monetary systems and anyone with an informed interest in the future of the planet.
Our money system is outdated, brittle and unfit for purpose. It:
is responsible for the endless cycle of boom and bust
systematically widens the gap between rich and poor
creates unemployment and multiplies other extremely adverse social effects of any financial/economic crisis
undermines sustainability initiatives
disables vitally-needed national and international action to limit multiple threats to the environment and the biosphere.
It is the single structural cause common to all financial and monetary instability including the 145 banking crises, 208 monetary crashes and 72 sovereign-debt crises identified by the IMF since 1970. In the current eurozone crisis, it is the money system that is responsible for inflicting high unemployment and other painful side-effects on several countries. The money system = a system of centralised, national currencies (or regional currency in the case of the euro), funded through bank debt, enforced by a central bank (frequently private and profit-making) and run as a monopoly.
Money and Sustainability: The Missing Link Report from the Club of Rome proposes an alternative: a monetary 'ecosystem' with complementary currencies working alongside the conventional one. This is more flexible, resilient, fair and sustainable. Societies worked like this in the past. So can we.
The book first explains these systemic problems in detail. It's written in a way that's clearly accessible to the general public (although it references at length a wide range of technical topics: economics theory, the history and institutions of banking, the physics of complex flow networks, the science of sustainability, and population trends and climate change). This gives a framework for understanding the present money system.
The authors then describe their proposal for an alternative money ecosystem which systematically addresses and resolves the problems created by the present system.
Finally, this practical proposal is illustrated by nine case studies of different complementary currencies which are either running now, in development or could be implemented at short notice in individual cities and regions around the world.
[For a more in-depth account of regional and complementary currencies including blueprints for starting and running them and interviews with the founders of a range of currencies see People Money by Bernard Lietaer, Margrit Kennedy and John Rogers.]
Who should read Money and Sustainability?
This is a book for anyone interested in understanding the nature of the current financial monetary crisis and the way it relates to broader sustainability issues. It deliberately assumes no prior training in economics or finance but addresses these issues in terms that will interest and intrigue: policy makers economists anybody concerned about any aspect of sustainability (environmental, social, climate change) anybody interested in systemic as opposed to symptom-alleviation solutions political and business leaders researchers in the fields of money and monetary systems and currencies anyone interested in complementary currency initiatives.
About the Authors
Bernard Lietaer is an international expert in the design and implementation of currency systems. He has worked in the field for over 30 years as a central banker, fund manager, professor and consultant. Co-designer of the convergence mechanism for the euro and former president of the Electronic Payment System at the National Bank of Belgium, he also managed the currency fund GaiaCorp.
Christian Arnsperger is Professor of Economics at the Universit catholique de Louvain and researches at the Hoover Chair for Economic and Social Ethics.
Sally Goerner is director of the Integral Science Institute, on the scientific advisory council of the European Academy of Evolution Research and past-president of the Society for Chaos Theory in the Life Sciences.
Stefan Brunnhuber is a socioeconomist and psychiatrist. Former Visiting Fellow at the C. G. Jung Institute, Zurich and Clinical Consultant at the University of Salzburg, he is currently CMO at the Saxonia hospital for integral psychiatry and vice-chairman of the European Institute of Medicine.