Segments in this Video

Meet the Panelists (01:47)


Debate moderator Isabel Hilton addresses issues of population boom and resource scarcity. She introduces former Conservative Party leader Michael Howard, debt forgiveness campaigner Ann Pettifor, and Nobel laureate economist Robert Shiller.

Michael Howard: The Pitch (01:54)

Howard proposes that economic growth is desirable, and will continue indefinitely with interruptions. Most humans aspire to improve living standards; health, education and infrastructure need more money. Since Malthus, economists predicting resource collapse have been proven wrong due to human ingenuity and adaptability.

Ann Pettifor: The Pitch (03:33)

Pettifor argues that economists do not understand the second law of thermodynamics; environmental degradation should be incorporated into economics. Before Samuel Britain invented the concept of growth in 1961, employment levels indicated productivity. She argues that wealth acquisition has become tyrannical.

Robert Shiller: The Pitch (04:38)

Shiller acknowledges that resource limits and environmental degradation are a concern, but argues that we cannot worry about all future generations. He agrees with Howard that growth helps poor nations develop and with Pettifor that consumerism is corrupting society.

Theme One: Can an Economy Grow Indefinitely? - Part One (07:09)

Howard argues that the world economy will expand with interruptions and the market will mitigate resource limitations and global warming. Pettifor believes increased labor will achieve full employment within ecosystem limits. She says consumption is not indefinite, and that we should use resources for social benefit.

Can an Economy Grow Indefinitely? - Part Two (04:50)

Shiller says Malthus predicted the current population boom and consequent resource scarcity; the economy cannot grow indefinitely in absolute terms. Competition fuels entrepreneurship but creates conspicuous consumption that should be taxed. Howard points out that world hunger and poverty have been reduced.

Theme Two: Should We Rethink Our Concept of Growth? - Part One (07:45)

Pettifor argues that we should integrate ecosystem degradation into the macro economy. She says the growing income gap is leading to corruption and social unrest. Shiller says GDP correlates with life expectancy. Inequality is a form of social risk and technology is replacing jobs.

Should We Rethink Our Concept of Growth? - Part Two (03:29)

Hilton asks panelists for an alternative economic growth measurement to GDP. Howard says that technology has always replaced jobs; young people should be taught adaptability. He argues that people are more concerned with improving their lives than with inequality, and discusses the concept of well-being.

Should We Rethink Our Concept of Growth? - Part Three (06:39)

Howard argues that, based on history, economic growth will continue with interruptions. Pettifor says that Britain's economy was government supervised during its "golden age" between 1945 and 1971. Western economies are suffering from market deregulation. Shiller points out that consumerism unpredictable.

Theme Three: Are We Heading Into Another Crisis? (07:02)

Shiller believes another economic downturn is inevitable, due to insufficient market reforms after 2008. Howard says the effects of central banks printing unprecedented amounts of money on the global economy are unknown. Pettifor discusses the increased crisis frequency and the lack of fiscal and monetary response tools.

Credits: The Infinite Boom: Is Indefinite Growth a Fantasy? (00:08)

Credits: The Infinite Boom: Is Indefinite Growth a Fantasy?

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The Infinite Boom: Is Indefinite Growth a Fantasy?

Part of the Series : Institute of Art and Ideas: Cutting Edge Debates and Talks from the World's Leading Thinkers
DVD (Chaptered) Price: $169.95
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Growth seems to be back in the UK. But while good for votes, perpetual growth in a closed system seems to defy the laws of physics. Is relentless growth a mistaken fantasy? Will commodity shortage force change? Or is continuous growth a viable proposition for the indefinite future?

The Panel

Isabel Hilton examines the fantasy of growth with Nobel prize-winning economist Robert Shiller, former Conservative leader Michael Howard and author of The Coming First World Debt Crisis Ann Pettifor.

Length: 50 minutes

Item#: BVL115761

ISBN: 978-1-63521-114-6

Copyright date: ©2015

Closed Captioned

Performance Rights

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Only available in USA and Canada.