Quarterly capitalism: The pervasive effects of short-termism and austerity

Quarterly Capitalism

Instant gratification is usually associated with limited attention spans, temptations to eat unhealthily or the tech-enabled on-demand economy in which many of us live. Each of these behaviours has known side-effects which we have identified and tried to limit.

However, in the complex economic system which is capitalism, the problems associated with the tendency to prioritise short-term over longer-term gains has only recently started to gain traction. Part of this slow uptake is attributable to the gradual recognition of the problematic symptoms, including increased inequality, dissatisfaction towards government policies of austerity and a general distrust of corporations. The side-effects have taken time to become noticeable.

In this blog post, I’ll take a look at the consequences of short-termism, ranging from financial and economic dimensions to the social implications. The unfortunate irony is that short-term behaviours often have the longest lasting effects.

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Quarterly capitalism: The pervasive effects of short-termism and austerity

Better Banking: Reflections on the Triodos UK Annual Meeting

Triodos

When you hear the word “bank”, what’s the first thought that pops into your head? Crisis or scandal? Unethical or heartless? Perhaps something more sinister? The banking industry isn’t usually positively associated with social values. However, it doesn’t need to be that way: change is often led by innovators willing to challenge the status quo.

On Saturday, I attended the Annual Meeting of Triodos Bank’s* UK operations in Bristol. It was refreshing and enlightening to learn more about a financial institution set up with human values at its core. A common thread throughout the day was the combining of people, planet and prosperity – issues not normally associated with the profit-focused banking industry.

I couldn’t help but think that this was a glimpse of the future of finance. Or rather, maybe it’s a return to the original purpose of finance and banking: to enable humans to create a greater shared prosperity.

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Better Banking: Reflections on the Triodos UK Annual Meeting

Choice and effect: Review of “World Factory” and “The True Cost”

WorldFactory

Newton’s third law of motion states that “for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction”. Two recent productions highlight how this is relevant in the world of fast fashion.

“World Factory” at London’s Young Vic theatre takes audience members on the journey of “operating” their own clothing factory in China for a year. The decisions and their implications create an eye-opening experience of how the seemingly innocuous can have far-reaching consequences.

In a similar vein, the recently released “The True Cost” film explores the way in which growing consumerism in developed countries has led to human suffering and environmental destruction, particularly in developing countries.

The productions raise uncomfortable and morally challenging questions. How can the actions of those in of us in developed countries be changed to prevent damaging reactions elsewhere in global supply chains?

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Choice and effect: Review of “World Factory” and “The True Cost”

Lower commodity prices: Why Fairtrade really matters right now

Fairtrade

Much of the recent attention on falling commodity prices has focused on the impact of lower energy prices. However, crude oil and its refined products are not the only commodities to have seen recent price declines. Many agricultural products and precious metals – including those sold under Fairtrade certification – have experienced downward price pressure coupled with high volatility. Lower prices mean lower incomes for farmers and artisanal miners, creating a greater role for the Fairtrade premium.

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Lower commodity prices: Why Fairtrade really matters right now