2 February 2024

Book. This short and powerful essay was born from the urgency of an intuition: “We are moving from a world of abundance to a world of scarcity”, write Patrick Artus, columnist at World, and Olivier Pastré, professor of economics. In view of the major consequences to come, a time out is deemed necessary.

The two economists explain that the transition between these two models first concerns all members of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) – this discreet institution, born in 1961, whose headquarters are in Paris, brings together 38 countries. among the richest on the planet, who have two things in common: sharing a democratic system of government and defending the market economy. But, along the way, the entire planet will be affected by this macro- and geoeconomic upheaval, linked to global warming, according to the predictions of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The conclusion is clear: “The new world is going to be expensive for many reasons”, analyze the two accomplices, because this transition to a scarcity economy is linked to three major transformations: less labour, less savings and fewer raw materials. Moreover, whoever says scarcity, says rising prices, with the corollary of the return of inflation and the burning question of purchasing power for the middle classes, the bedrock of democracy.

Energy fragility

The Covid-19 epidemic has revealed the dependence of OECD countries, and France in particular, on Chinese products. If there are relocations, these must focus on strategic productions, such as vaccines or electric batteries. The war in Ukraine has demonstrated the energy fragility of the European Union (EU), but the most urgent efforts are above all to be made for environmental transition, “which will be anything but a long calm river”, point out the two authors. It must be at the center of the policies of all governments. Clearly, the transition to the scarcity economy leads to a questioning of neoliberal capitalism, which has flourished since the beginning of the 1980s.

Also read the column: Article reserved for our subscribers “Abundance does not bring happiness”

Another consequence, “the rise in the cost of energy will impose, to be acceptable, new redistributive policies in favor of low-income households that will have to be financed by increased tax pressure”, that is to say an increase in taxes, warn the authors.

To conclude on a more optimistic note – although – the two economists recall a famous phrase by Jean Monnet: “I always thought that Europe would be made in crises. » Given those that have piled up on its shoulders since 2020 (Covid-19, war in Ukraine, energy crisis), the EU can only progress by leaps and bounds…

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