Resilience economics: a scenario

Jamais Cascio presents Resilience Econmics as a scenario of an economy in 2030. He also presents two alternatives – Just in Time Socialism and Robonomics in his column in the business magazine Fast Company.  Jamais writes:

Resilience Economics

United States: Resilience Economics employs a mix of regulations and norms (i.e., non-regulated but expected behavior) to shift standard business processes away from a focus on efficiency towards a focus on flexibility.

Resilience Economics (RE) emerged out of the realization that Neoliberal Globalized Corporate Capitalism made money hand-over-fist when everything was working right, but was like a rapidly-spinning top–seemingly stable, but if it hit too rough a patch, it went wildly out of control. The RE world, conversely, is less-lucrative during growth periods, but weathers downturns so well that most folks don’t even notice when “recessions” hit.

Proponents of NGCC dismissed RE as unable to compete with the 20th century way of making money, and that appeared to be correct up until the Great Retreat of 2017 hit, the downturn that made the 2008-2010 recession pale in comparison. Ironically, most folks figure that it was because we didn’t fix the problems in the first real 21st century recession, just offered bailouts and slaps on the wrist, that we got hit by the Great Retreat a decade later.

Three key characteristics of Resilience Economics shape the way we live:

  • Polyculture markets means that no one economic (or financial) institution ever gets “too big to fail,” or so big that it distorts markets the way WalMart used to. This was probably the most politically controversial set of rule changes, but the least visible for most everyday people.
  • Transactional Transparency upset some politicians and executives, too, but really worked to smooth out markets. All along, economists said that capitalism depends on transparent markets, where buyers and sellers know all the relevant details, but that was always the one aspect of capitalism that most “capitalists” ignored.
  • Collaborative Flexibility, aka the “Lego Economy.” The result of the previous two characteristics, really. Lots of small companies, individual entrepreneurs, even part-time workers able to come together as necessary for big projects.

Is it perfect? No. It’s noticeably less efficient than the 20th century model, and a lot of older folks say that they don’t feel as “rich” as they did a few decades ago, but it’s hard to say how much of that is from RE, and how much is just that we’re all trying to deal with adapting to a global environmental crisis.

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