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Ann Pettifor

Ann Pettifor

I’m Ann Pettifor, author and analyst of the global financial system, and co-author of The Green New Deal (2008). I predicted an Anglo-American debt-deflationary crisis back in 2003, and in September, 2006 published The Coming First World Debt Crisis (Palgrave). I am known for my work on the sovereign debts of low income countries and for leading an international movement for the cancellation of debts, Jubilee 2000.

Articles by Ann Pettifor

How to transfer power away from markets and to democratically elected governments.

29 days ago

This article was written in July, 2020 for Project Syndicate where it was finally published on 1st October, 2020. The global economy suffers from dangerous imbalances.  Economic goals for endless ‘growth’ lead to rises in heat-trapping gases that conflict with the earth’s limited capacity to manage rising toxic emissions.  Urbanisation, pollution, soil erosion, deforestation, depletion of wildlife, degradation of marine ecosystems – these and other economic activities disturb the equilibrium of nature – humanity’s life support system. Ecological imbalances are compounded by economic imbalances. The production of gluts of for example, oil, steel, diamonds and cocoa contrast with trends towards under-consumption, driven by falls in global purchasing power. Deflationary

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On the Green New Deal – for The Chartist magazine

September 20, 2020

Nigel Doggett and Mike Davis of The Chartist magazine spoke to Ann Pettifor about why a Green New Deal is central to our recoveryPublished 20 September, 2020. How do you see the GND playing out against the Covid crisis?There are two roads to travel. One is the progressive one in which our leaders wake up to the scale of the climate threat and decide they are going to prepare. There are signs of that happening: little things like the French deciding to abolish burners in Paris streets.But there are signs of a nationalist, autocratic and reactionary response too. This in some senses is the gravest threat and perhaps more likely. I hate to be pessimistic but if you watch Trump, Bolsonaro, Poland and Hungary, but also the new bellicose American approach to China, there

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Radically Transforming the EU Economy – and how to finance it

September 4, 2020

September 4, 2020The following article appeared on Progressive Post, the website of the Foundation of Progressive European Studies (FEPS)Today’s capitalism cannot tackle climate breakdown and cannot prevent the loss of biodiversity. It considers work as a cost to be minimised, to the detriment of the economy and the social meaning of work.High rates of return on capital (interest) require ever-rising extraction of the earth’s finite assets and the felling of its biodiverse ecosystem. Nature is crowded out by intensive agriculture, mineral extraction and housebuilding linked to expanded transport networks (shipping and airlines) and fuelled by hydrocarbons. These activities have stripped wildlife of habitats and brought societies into conflict with the animal world. More

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Remembering John Weeks

August 17, 2020

Late last month, pioneering socialist economist John Weeks passed away. Ann Pettifor remembers her colleague and friend – and his contributions to left-wing politics. This piece first appeared in Tribune magazine on 08 August, 2020. Please note correction at the end of this piece. John Weeks, brilliant Left economist and public intellectual, would have been well pleased that three days after his death the Financial Times published a letter he had signed attacking the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR). The idea that posthumously he remained a thorn in the side of the British economics establishment would have brought this Texan-born socialist considerable satisfaction.  John was a warm, good-looking and radical economist, a dapper dresser and a man who knew how

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Green shoots: the best books to inspire hope for the planet

July 21, 2020

This review of books to inspire a green transformation appeared in The Guardian on 18 July, 2020. Everyday life has been upended by the pandemic, but the Arctic heatwave is a reminder that the climate crisis still poses an urgent threat to humanity. We will need resolve, ambition and optimism as we emerge from lockdown, so we can forge the green recovery that is so crucial. One book that has sustained my faith in the future is Herman E Daly and John B Cobb’s hopeful vision, For the Common Good. Daly, once (briefly) the World Bank’s chief environmentalist, is an advocate of the steady state economy, central to the Green New Deal. This book is as relevant today as when it was first published, more than 30 years ago. JA Baker’s 1967 memoir The Peregrine, is another

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The duel: Should we aim to get the economy back to “business as usual”?

July 10, 2020

The following debate between Paul Wallace and Ann Pettifor appeared in Prospect magazine on 10 July, 2020.Is our capitalist economy an unparalleled engine of prosperity, or a human and ecological disaster? Two contributors debate whether the system is worth savingYes—Paul Wallace It is tempting, when living through a once-in-a-century event such as the coronavirus pandemic, to say everything must change: that it’s time to tear up the rulebook and to create a completely new kind of economy. Tempting, but wrong. In fact, what we need is to rebuild the existing capitalist economy, which for all its faults has been an engine for greater prosperity not just in Britain but around the world. The measures taken to suppress the pandemic have already exacted a huge economic cost as

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Inequality and Morbid Symptoms of a Financialised System

June 29, 2020

This article appeared in a special, June 2020 edition of the Real-World Economics Review that majored on The Inequality Crisis. Today as the world endures the crisis of a global pandemic, “an old order is ending in convulsions”. So writes Rebecca Spang, historian of the French revolution in The Atlantic (Spang, 2020). In the 1790s, money, debt and the non-payment of taxes by France’s rentiers, played a critical role in revolutionizing France. Today purveyors of money and debt – creditors, investors and speculators – both avoid taxes and prey on a global economy radically weakened by the Great Financial Crisis and the policy response to the events

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Put Fairness at the Heart of Finance

June 26, 2020

This article appeared in the UK-based Church Times on 26 June, 2020 The coronavirus pandemic is a moment of reckoning for globalisation and our international financial system. The pandemic has shown how unjust the international system is towards low income countries; given us the opportunity to imagine another economy; and served as a warning.  If we do not fix the system to prepare for the coming, graver crisis of earth systems breakdown, the survival of humanity is at risk.  Just as it was hard for the ancient Israelites to imagine an economy apart from the Egyptian military-industrial complex on which they had become dependent, so it is hard for us to imagine another economy. "Would that we had died at the Lord’s hand in the land of Egypt, as we sat by our

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Rebuild the ramshackle global financial system

June 17, 2020

The following appeared in Nature magazine on 17 June, 2020 Economic researchers neglect the role of financialization in global existential crises. Riddled with comorbidities, the current global monetary and financial set-up precipitates crises with increasing frequency. At first, these were on the fringes of the global economy; in 2007–09 they moved to its very core. Since 1971, national economies, and all our lives, have been shaped by this ‘system’, which can be described only as ramshackle. In that year, US president Richard Nixon unilaterally dismantled the Bretton Woods international financial architecture, built at the end of the Second World War. No sound replacement was constructed. Largely privatized, what governs the global economy today

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We can get killed…..

June 16, 2020

The following are my notes for a contribution to the debate on the post-Coronavirus economy held in the European Union’s parliament on 15 June, 2020. (The Parliament was largely empty as many MEPs were still shielding or self-solating from the pandemic. ) Other contributors included: Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas, Professor of Global Management, University of California, Berkeley, Daniela Gabor, Professor of Economics and Macro-Finance, Lex Hoogduin, Professor at the University of Groningen; Gita Gopinath, IMF Chief Economist; Laurence Boone, Chief Economist OECD. Vladimiro Giacché, Chairman of the Centro Europa Ricerche, Romaand yours truly: Ann Pettifor, Political economist, author and public speaker. The Chair was Irene Tinagli MEP THE GREAT LOCKDOWN  1.     We have learned

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Vultures are Circling our Fragile Economy. We Must Not Let Them Feast.

June 16, 2020

This article appeared on the Open Democracy site on 16 June 2020 On the weekend of 30 May Elon Musk – a billionaire with a net worth of $38billion – launched a rocket into space. This private venture was in contrast to President Kennedy’s ‘moonshot’ ambition of 1961-69 ­– one of the greatest mobilizations of public resources and manpower in U.S. history. Musk’s ostensible aim is to colonise Mars; but his ultimate purpose is to extract future rents from billionaires ferried into space, and from taxi services conveying public aerospace sector (NASA) astronauts to the International Space Station.A discordant note was struck on the day of Musk’s ‘Starship’ launch. Hundreds of thousands of Americans ignored the event while they angrily protested the police killing of

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Building from ground zero: Doing business in disaster zones

June 7, 2020

A review of Richard Davies’s EXTREME ECONOMIES Survival, failure, future – lessons from the world’s limits416pp. Bantam. £20 (paperback, £9.99). Published in the Times Literary Supplement, 17 April, 2020. Economists are beginning to worry over what comes after Covid-19. The pandemic is having a devastating impact on the global economy, and many expect a prolonged period of depression. Will economies recover? And if so, how will they recover? Richard Davies’s Extreme Economies offers timely and revealing insights into how markets recover from catastrophic events. Davies has produced an exciting and well-written travelogue around some of the most marginal communities in the global economy, guiding us carefully through the economics of resilience, of lost potential

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Globalisation, a pandemic and the US dollar

May 11, 2020

As published on Progressive International  on Monday, 11 May, 2020 She said, "My name’s Flo, and you’re on the right trackBut look here, daddy, I wear furs on my backSo if you want to have fun in this man’s landLet Lincoln and Jackson start shaking handsI reached in my pocket, and to her big surpriseThere was Lincoln staring her dead in the eyeOn a greenback, greenback dollar billJust a little piece of paper, coated with chlorophyllRay Charles, 1957.   Things are falling apart. Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world. Globalisation cannot hold.We know that because Henry Paulson, once CEO of Goldman Sachs, and then US Treasury Secretary during the last crisis, is rallying the world’s capitalists to defend globalisation from reshoring, protectionism and immigration controls.

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Top economists warn against post Covid-19 austerity.

May 4, 2020

This brief piece by Ann Pettifor appeared in the New Statesman on 4 May, 2020. Top economists warn the UK not to repeat austerity after the Covid-19 crisis. Mariana Mazzucato, Robert Skidelsky, Ann Pettifor, David Blanchflower and others on why the UK must not impose spending cuts in response to higher debt.It is clear that some commentators and think-tanks have not woken up to the severity of the debt-deflationary depression we are heading into. Delusional Tory austerity enthusiasts have not given this threat much thought. Nor it seems, has the Resolution Foundation which called on the Treasury to maintain fiscal rules and “to keep inflation expectations firmly anchored around the 2 per cent target.” Both groups fail to grasp the devastating scale and depth of the

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The future of money – for El Pais

May 4, 2020

This note was published by Spain’s El Pais on 4 May, 2020 Central banks have adopted extraordinary, historically unprecedented measures to prevent this pandemic collapsing the globalised financial system. Trillions of dollars, euros and yen have been created ‘out of thin air’. As a result there is a fear of inflation – the erosion of the value of money. I have another anxiety: that the heavily indebted global economy is headed for a future of deflation. An era in which over indebted companies will collapse and default; assets like oil will become ‘distressed’; prices, profits and wages will fall, but the value of money will rise, increasing the

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Here’s a Three-Step Plan to Take Back Control

April 17, 2020

The following article appeared on The Correspondent’s website on 17 April, 2020 With acknowledgement to HiltonT for the image of the President Steyn Gold Mine in Welkom, Orange Free State. I was born and grew up in a dusty, sparsely populated gold mining town on the bare and vast ‘veld’ of the Orange Free State, South Africa. As a child, my town’s dependence on the extraction of gold at a price fixed in Washington, opened my eyes to the architecture of the international financial system. Most puzzling to me was why the price of gold, set at $35 an ounce by President Roosevelt in 1934, had not changed at all by the early 1970s. Why, when prices for everything else in our town had moved since then, had the price of a precious, scarce asset remained so low – especially

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“The economic mechanism of Europe is jammed”

April 16, 2020

“The economic mechanism of Europe is jammed.” – J M Keynes [1] The Dutch finance minister Wopka Hoekstra is somewhat brazen. Like his German counterpart, he caused consternation across the Union by rejecting a ‘Coronabond’ – a scheme for raising finance for EU countries tackling the coronavirus crisis; a scheme that would have lowered the cost of debt for many countries. A conservative German economist, who had earlier rejected the concept of shared liability, predicted that unless the Union came up with a common crisis bond, he foresaw a “grim future for the EU”.  Michael Hüther told the German daily Tagesspiegel that “it’s not about financing dams in central Italy. It’s a question of life and death.” But if Mr Hoekstra cares little about questions of life and death,

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The macroeconomic imperative of nationalisation

March 24, 2020

Acknowledgement: Wikimedia Commons

In Britain as in the US, governments are tackling the corona virus by undertaking actions that force the closure or collapse of companies large and small. To compensate, they are stepping in with subsidies and bailouts. Because millions of livelihoods are at stake these interventions are welcome and necessary. But we must demand more: not just greater transparency and accountability for these socialised losses; but also state ownership and tough conditions in return for taxpayer-backed largesse. Today the British government announced the ending of railway franchise agreements and the effective nationalisation

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Subordinating the internationalisation of capital to the solidarity of labour

March 23, 2020

This piece first appeared in Tribune magazine on 23 March, 2020. It is reproduced here with some minor amendments. We are living through terrifying times. The greatest threat to humanity stems not just from a virulent superbug, but as scary –  the response to it. In Britain, as in the US, policy action is dictated by an ultra-nationalist government, which while pretending to “take back control” remains committed to a free-for-all for the owners of capital – globalisation. Both governments refuse to tackle the pandemic by engaging processes for international solidarity and coordination, including those established by the WHO. A heavy price is being paid by the world’s poorest for the ongoing commitment to the internationalisation of capital – and for the role globalisation

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Coronavirus could unravel globalisation

March 21, 2020

The following article was written for Tribune magazine, and published on 21 March, 2020. A heavy price is being paid by the world’s poorest for the ongoing commitment to the internationalisation of capital – and for the role globalisation plays in transforming epidemics into pandemics, and health crises into systemic financial crises.  Millions of people living in low income countries are now threatened by the lethality of the corona virus; by economic failure at home, and by the power of the US Federal Reserve and the mighty US dollar. Capitalists – investors and/or speculators – are using the globalisation system to shift  vast sums of money out of non-OECD countries and into the relatively safe haven that is the United States. The Mexican Peso plunged 30% over

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The Pope, Quincy Jones, Bono, Willie Colón – and the burden of sovereign debt.

October 11, 2019

On the eve of the 2019 annual meetings of the World Bank and IMF, we are once again alerted to a rise in the debt burdens of low-income countries. Last year the total external debt of both low- and middle-income countries climbed 5.3 percent to $7.8 trillion, while net debt flows (gross disbursements minus principal payments) from external creditors tumbled 28 percent to $529 billion, according to the World Bank’s International Debt Statistics.  In other words debt burdens worsened, while foreign creditors effectively switched the lending tap down to a trickle. The sovereign debt crises of the poorest countries has shaped all my work on the international financial architecture. or system. An important part of my life was dedicated to a campaign to write off the unpayable

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How the sexist ‘Nobel Prize’ in economics has warped the world

September 26, 2019

The following hastily written piece appeared in Left Foot Forward on 25th September, 2019.The Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics will be 50 years old next month. One thing unites all its winners, bar one: they have all been male.This is not just an affront to equality. In overlooking brilliant female economists, the Swedish Central Bank’s Nobel has neglected economic theory which could have helped prevent the turmoil of regular financial shocks and political trauma.The outstanding female economists passed over by the Nobel Foundation have often understood the social nature of money and credit as a social construct more profoundly than male economists crowding the world stage. And yet, they have rarely been recognised, never mind celebrated. That must change.The

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Balance of Power: The Economic Consequences of the Peace at 100

September 25, 2019

My review of John Maynard Keynes’s The Economic Consequences of the Peace  Macmillan (2019) appeared in Nature – the International Journal of Science – on 23 September, 2019.“Ann Pettifor finds astonishing contemporary resonance in John Maynard Keynes’s critique of globalization and inequity.”The Economic Consequences of the Peace John Maynard Keynes Macmillan (2019)In December 1919, John Maynard Keynes published a blistering attack on the Treaty of Versailles, signed in June that year. The treaty’s terms helped to end the First World War. Keynes’s The Economic Consequences of the Peace revealed how they would also pave the way to the Second.Keynes, then at the start of his career in economics, had attended the Paris Peace Conference, where the treaty was drafted, as

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How the Green New Deal was born – New Statesman

September 24, 2019

The following article and interview with PRIME’s director written by Hettie O’Brien, appeared in the New Statesman on 24th September, 2019. Please note the error at the end of the piece: Since the Paris Climate Agreement three years ago, J.P. Morgan Chase have reportedly lent $196 billion, not $1.96 billion to fossil fuel industries, oil, coal and gas. The figure is drawn from the Rainforest Action Network’s 2018 Report, Banking on Climate Change.Eleven years ago, a group of economists and green thinkers devised a radical plan to transform the economy and protect the environment. Today, their ideas have been embraced by Labour and US Democrats.Since a group of Labour activists began agitating for the party leadership to adopt a Green New Deal in March this year, the

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Transforming an economic system that threatens earth’s life support systems.

September 20, 2019

This is an excerpt from a Green New Deal Report published today, 20th September, 2019 – the day children and their supporters around the world demanded urgent action on the climate emergency. The Green New Deal Report is co-authored by PRIME’s director, Ann Pettifor, and accompanies the publication of Bill tabled in parliament by Caroline Lucas MP (Green Party) and Clive Lewis MP (Labour Party). Momentum is growing worldwide for a comprehensive Green New Deal that will transform our economy, society, and almost every aspect of life in Britain: from the way we produce and consume energy, grow the food we eat, travel, work, and cool and heat our homes.An economic system that has driven us to disaster. For more than fifty years the global economy has endured frequent and

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System change – not climate breakdown

September 20, 2019

The director of PRIME is a co-author of this new report by the Green New Deal group UK, published on the day a wave of schoolstrikes swept the world – demanding action to reverse the potentially catastrophic impacts of earth systems collapse . It accompanies the publication of the Decarbonisation and Economic Strategy Bill, a Bill first tabled by Caroline Lucas MP (Green Party) and Clive Lewis MP (Labour Party) in March 2019, now published in full. It is designed to implement a Green New Deal for the UK.Fundamentally, the Bill lays the foundations for the changes to the way that government manages the economy needed to make transformation possible.The Bill establishes a Green New Deal Commission, which will draw on the expertise across society and from every corner of the

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The Beauty of a Green New Deal is that it will pay for itself.

September 17, 2019

On the day that my book The Case for the Green New Deal is launched, the Guardian published the article below. In September 2007, as credit was “crunched” and the financial crisis began to unfold, a group of economists and environmentalists, including the future Green party MP Caroline Lucas, met regularly in my small London flat. Supping on comfort food and wine, we argued furiously while drafting a plan we hoped would transform the economy and protect the ecosystem. We called it the Green New Deal. Little did we know that the ideas we seeded then would be adopted by a shooting star of the Democratic party, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, as part of her bid for a New York congressional seat in 2018.Fast forward to 2019 and the Green New Deal is now at the centre of the

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What Labour would mean for Business

September 7, 2019

On 5 September, 2019 in a Financial Times video, Jim Pickard, political editor of the Financial Times, looks at how, behind divisions over Brexit and anti-semitism, there is a radical agenda led by shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell. Jim interviews a range of advisers, including Ann Pettifor, Director of PRIME. The video can be viewed here.

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Jeremy Corbyn’s inner circles – from the FT

September 7, 2019

On 3rd September, 2019 the Financial Times published a visual survey of figures around Jeremy Corbyn, Opposition leader and head of the British Labour Party. The story can be found here: Ann Pettifor, Director of PRIME features in it. There is one minor error: Pettifor did not ‘step away’ from advising the Corbyn team after the European Referendum of 2016. The other economists on the advisory board stepped away…. Pettifor was the only one to remain. The following are extracts from the story. “Jeremy Corbyn is an atypical leader of the Labour party; one with almost total factional control of Britain’s opposition. To achieve this, the 70-year-old is surrounded by a tight cabal of influencers who shape both his politics and policies and are seen by many as the real people

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