The New Economy

The New Economy section of the YES! Magazine website carries daily updates on the people who are living the New Economy into being. The Next System Project is exploring system design options. The New Economy Coalition brings together organizations from acorss the United States working to make a just an sustainable New Economy a reality.

The living systems perspective on the New Economy outlined here is spelled out in more detail in our various books. It is further developed in our YES! Magazine Living Earth Economy column, and our Twitter and Facebook feeds. See <new-economy-resources> for more details. You will also find a wealth of additional materials in the library section of this site.

The New Economy begins with a recognition that we humans are living beings born of and nurtured by a living Earth. And life exists only in communities that create and maintain the conditions essential to their own existence. Human health health and happiness depend on strong and healthy family and community relationships.

The only legitimate purpose of any economy to support the members of its community in making a healthy and satisfying living from their just and rightful share of our Earth mother's bounty. This is the purpose of the new economy and it calls for a radical reinvention of our defining economic culture and institutions.

A Democratic, Market-Based Alternative

For all the tragic pain created by the financial collapse in September 2008, it was a powerful educational moment. Trillions of dollars of phantom financial wealth vanished in the blink of an eye. The corruption of an economic system that counts destruction of the life of people, community, and nature to make money for the already rich as a gain for society was exposed for all to see. The phantom wealth Wall Street economy has since recovered, its asset bubbles reinflated. The real wealth Main Street economy of working people seeking to make a living for their families continues to flounder. 

We the People have the right and the means to replace the culture and institutions of this corrupt system with the culture and institutions of a New Economy that gives the needs of people, families, communities, and nature priority over the greed of Wall Street bankers. It is a risk free choice, because the same measures required to assure our collective survival will give us the world of shared peace, prosperity and security of which most humans have dreamed for millennia. 

The System Goal

We envision a healthy planetary system of local living economies that self-organize to maintain three system conditions: 

  • Earth Balance  between aggregate human consumption and the regenerative capacity of Earth’s biosphere. We have achieved a technological mastery beyond the imagination of previous generations. Yet we lack the wisdom of our indigenous ancestors who recognized and honored their dependence on the generous bounty of their living Earth mother. As a global species, we currently consume at a rate 1.6 times what Earth can sustain. The cultural and institutional system of a living Earth economy must support us in reducing aggregate consumption as we act to heal living Earth's generative systems. 
  • Shared Prosperity through the equitable distribution of work and material benefits to secure for everyone the opportunity for a healthy, fulfilling means of livelihood through a combination of paid employment, household production, entrepreneurship, public services, and gifting. Societies  that share wealth and work equitably enjoy greater physical and emotional health, stronger families and communities, less violence, and healthier natural environment. They are as well more democratic and more resilient in the face of crisis. 
  • Living Democracy is a daily practice of civic engagement through which popular sovereignty finds expression as part of the essential fabric of community life. The active, equitable, and responsible engagement of every person in making the political and economic decisions that bear on their health and happiness as both individuals and community is essential to the system's resilience, creativity and ability to adapt to changing conditions in ways that maintain ecological balance and shared prosperity. Living democracy celebrates and affirms diversity, cooperation, and local decision making within a framework of individual rights, community responsibility, democratically determined rules, and mutual accountability 

Modern Patriots

Millions of people the world over are joining together to rebuild their local economies and communities.  They are supporting locally owned human-scale businesses and family farms, developing local financial institutions, reclaiming farm and forest lands, changing land use policies to concentrate population in compact communities that reduce automobile dependence, retrofitting their buildings for energy conservation, and otherwise working toward local self reliance in food, energy, and other basic essentials. 

By taking control of their lives, and building resilient local economies that use local resources and employ local people to meet local needs under local control, they are declaring their independence from the colonial domination of Wall Street corporations. They are the modern equivalent of the courageous patriots who in an earlier day declared their independence from a British king and his crown corporations and launched a new nation dedicated to achieving a daring ideal called democracy.  

Defining the New Economy

The May 30, 1983 issue of Time magazine featured a cover story on “The New Economy”that highlighted the transition from an economy based on traditional manufacturing industries to an economy based on information technologies.

Following the September 2008 financial crash, YES! Magazine featured a story by David Korten titled "Beyond the Bailout: Agenda for a New Economy"with a call to “replace the failed money-serving institutions of our present economy with the institutions of a new economy dedicated to serving life.

”YES!followed up with a special issue on "The New Economy" in Summer 2009.

New Economy is now a term of choice among progressive citizen groups working for an economy supportive of economic justice, environmental sustainability, peace, and democracy. The New Economy Coalition brings together more than 100 organizations dedicated to actualizing a shared vision of an economy that is just, sustainable, and democratic.

In this usage, the terms New Economy, living economy, real-wealth economy, caring economy, Main Street economy, and other lables for the just, sustainable, and predominantly cooperative economy we must now create are largely interchangeable. 

See also What's New About this New Economy?   

Tests for Prospective Action

Will the proposed action support the emergence of a new economic system that shifts the economy's:

  • Defining value from money to life
  • Locus of power from global financial markets to local communities of place,
  • Favored dynamic from competition to cooperation,
  • Defining ethic from reckless externalization of costs to responsible internalization, and
  • Primary purpose from growing the financial fortunes of the few to assuring the health and well-being of everyone.

Each contemplated intervention is properly evaluated for its contribution to advancing one or more of these essential shifts. Does it serve life, localize power, foster cooperation, internalize costs, and contribute to the health and well-being of all?

Living Systems Perspective 

Most discussions of issues relating to the environment, justice, peace, poverty, race, gender, immigration, crime, values, education, family, and much else focus on actions to alleviate downstream consequences of upstream system failures. Real, lasting solutions depend on transforming foundational values and institutions in ways rarely discussed in public discourse. We can tolerate the silence no longer. Our future depends on navigating the transition to a New Economy that mimics the structures and dynamics of Earth's biosphere. It begins with a conversation.

These are some of the additional New Economy resources on this website.  

  • Which Story? contrasts the underlying assumptions of the old and new economies and asks you to identify which you find more consistent with your experience and understanding.
  • Healthy Markets explores how a healthy market economy mimics the structure and capacity for rule-based self-organization of a healthy ecosystem. 
  • Money Rules addresses the money system as a system of power and identifies the design choices that determine whether money flows to the phantom wealth Wall Street economy or the real wealth Main Street economy. 
  • Life as Teacher outlines the case for looking to healthy living systems as a source of learning relevant to redesigning the institutional structures of human economies to mimic the structure and dynamics of the biosphere.
  • Emergence and Displacement outlines a three-fold strategy for global scale transformational change through locally-rooted, self-organizing citizen action.. 
  • Seven System Action Points identifies the critical areas in which policy action is required to shift the advantage from the declining Old Economy to the emerging New Economy. This is keyed to the New Economy system framework spelled out on our partner New Economy Working Group website.
  • What's New About this New Economy? spells out the differences between two contrasting visions of a New Economy: the magical high-tech fantasy economy and the reality-based living economy. The latter vision is of more recent origin, and thus the new version.
  • New Economy Resources provides a guide to resources for further study, organizing discussions, and action engagement.