AnnPettiforLondon-based macro-economist Ann Pettifor is best known as one of the few economists who predicted the 2007-2008 GFC. She also led the Jubilee movement which resulted in billions of debt relief for 49 of the world's poorest countries in 2000.

How serious is the threat that current banking and financial systems pose to a stable, safe and secure future?  Are there aspects that can be easily fixed, or is drastic reform needed?  Is the state of the financial and banking sector such that it is a major global driver, and something that needs careful factoring into strategic considerations?  This article by Dr Robert Howell covers his recent Wellington presentation and describes the likely risk of another 2008 financial crash, considers the effectiveness and efficiency of the current system, and evaluates whether the current system enables a solution to the threat of ecological collapse. Read more

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Sue Bradford's well-attended talk on the concept of a left wing think tank in NZ has provoked considerable discussion among attendees. Below is a considered response by Geoff Fischer in which he questions whether an institution of the general form discussed by Sue would necessarily represent a solution to any of the Left's problems. 

Sue Bradford, has been part of many of the left-wing political parties which have come and gone (or stayed as the case may be) in New Zealand over the past forty years. In each case she has left disillusioned and her disillusion has been attributed at least in part to the fact that her fellow left-wingers have shyed away from serious thinking on the issues that matter. Her proposed solution is a "left-wing think tank" which appears to be something akin to a political party consisting of professional thinkers without any direct connection to the mass of the public, or any involvement in political processes.

Whether the think tank proposal is designed to provide a last line of defence and a citadel from which the left may re-emerge armed with new thinking with which to engage the forces of the right on more equal terms, or whether to provide a comfortable refuge for those old warriors of the left who have been defeated in the political arena, might be a subject of contention, but most of us would opt for the former view.

Despite that, there will be obstacles in the path of such an initiative. Even if the funds can be found to launch and sustain the left-wing think tank project, the essential element of "thought" may be lacking. If the left is incapable of profound thought in its many and various existing parties and associations, why would things be any different when a selection of those same individuals who presently make up the left are assembled under the banner of a "think tank"? Would the name itself make the difference? Would the selective nature of its membership make a difference? I suspect that neither would be the case. If the left is not capable of creating a coherent, cohesive and astute political movement or party, why should we expect it to be able to establish a think tank which would be all those things?

In 2014 Sustainable Aotearoa New Zealand put together two dozen short YouTube videos about the major threats to our current way of life, and some of the actions that are needed to enable a prosperous future for humans on this Earth.  They identify an economic system that enables us to live within the capacity to support human life, and the major global drivers that will impact on our future choices.

Here are some links:

Is continued economic growth a purpose of life?

High quality resources on this planet have been used.

You and I are Guardians of Earth Resources.

Getting our Collective Act Together. 


Robert Howell

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bradfordOn 12 August Sue Bradford made a presentation to a larger audience base on her PhD thesis, 'A major left wing think tank in Aotearoa—an impossible dream or a call to action?'. She looked at why no major left wing think tank has developed in Aotearoa  and whether the left in 2010-2013 was fertile for such a development or not.

She interviewed 51 academics and activists from across the country and from many parts of the left, and considered the experience of a number of organisations she termed ‘nascent’ left wing think tanks, including the Fabian Society.

Sue's presentation outlined her key findings on the state of the left and the think tank question and then participated in discussion on the issues raised. A copy of the presentation is available here.

{jcomments off}Discussion of Sue's research is here.