Some Elements of the Next Global Economic System

How Might These New Elements Affect the Human Condition over the Next 20 Years?

 

Leading futurists, future-oriented economists, and future-oriented financial experts were invited to participate in this study, thinking 20 years ahead for imagining alternative futures for the world economy.

The study was conducted in 2009, intending to collect fresh thinking, new ideas along with results of futures research about what’s next after the global financial crisis and what elements may become part of the next economic system.

The study used a Real-Time Delphi questionnaire. The results of the study are being published in the 2009 State of the Future and the other following editions. Following is a summary of the study.

Report on a Real Time Delphi Study of Some Elements of the Next Global Economic System over the Next 20 Years
-- Exerpt from the Executive Summary --

During May, 2009 experts from around the world were invited to participate in a Real Time Delphi study of possible components of the next global economic system. Recognizing that the current crisis could affect more people, more deeply and be longer lasting than the Great Depression, it seemed appropriate to identify and evaluate some future elements of the next economic system and how such elements might help or hinder the human condition. The study asked expert respondents to evaluate the importance of 35 candidate elements and to provide narrative descriptions of the positive and negative consequences that might flow from each element. The study did not seek to identify the totality of a new economic system that might follow today’s system, but only elements that, taken together in the future, might make up that system.

The chart below lists all of the elements presented to the respondents in the questionnaire, rank ordered by the final average assessment of the element’s importance; also shown is the relative level of agreement among respondents (1).

Rank

Question Number

System Elements

Importance
(Average)

Number Responding

Level of Agreement

1

34

Ethics becomes a key element in most work relations and economic exchanges.

8.36

168

0.86

2

33

New GNP/GDP definitions that include all forms of national wealth: e.g., energy, materials, ecosystems, social and human capital.

7.96

164

0.78

3

8

Global commons – air, climate, oceans, biodiversity (bees necessary for agriculture, etc.) supported by international agreements among countries for very small (less than 1%) tax on selected categories including currency trading and international travel. The funds collected would amount to several hundred billion per year for global public goods.

7.75

172

0.83

4

18

Collective intelligence - global commons for the knowledge economy

7.74

155

0.88

5

35

On-line and in educational systems: continually updated curriculum on the evolving economic system and its elements

7.64

154

0.83

6

9

Simultaneous knowing – time lags changed or eliminated in information dissemination with much greater transparency.

7.61

168

0.79

7

16

Value of natural resources used in production is included when pricing goods

7.56

162

0.76

8

5

Women’s political-economic roles essentially on par with men (including recognition that women are penalized more than men in an economic crisis).

7.25

182

0.68

9

20

Greatly increased public disclosure required of "tax havens" and secret accounts.

7.10

153

0.68

10

32

Wealth, re-defined as experience and no longer simply the accumulation of money or physical things.

6.83

161

0.62

11

23

Alternatives to continuously creating artificial demand and growth.

6.80

153

0.58

12

19

New simple ways for individuals to invest directly in start-up companies and individual researchers.

6.73

164

0.67

13

27

Flexi-time (when work can begin and end at anytime).

6.68

165

0.56

14

29

Self-employment via Internet - Individuals seek markets for their abilities rather than jobs - individual as global holding company with many companies each with different products/services.

6.64

160

0.64

15

1

Non-ownership, as distinct from private ownership or collective/state ownership. A current example is open source software.

6.60

193

0.67

16

22

Synergistic intelligence vs. competitive intelligence.

6.60

146

0.59

17

28

New economic theory that accommodates many new "goods" that grossly violate the classical assumptions of "private goods"? i.e. information, which has a negligible marginal cost after being produced.

6.59

144

0.54

18

31

Individual and national intelligence as an economic competitive advantage; e.g., improved individual brain functioning and the quality of national collective intelligence systems.

6.59

147

0.57

19

26

Globalization - Geographic location increasingly less of a factor

6.51

157

0.53

20

12

Tele-everything, connecting essentially everything not yet connected.

6.49

163

0.45

21

6

New financial rules such as reinstating the uptick rule on all stock exchanges, percent of leverage, number of financial instruments between value and investor.

6.45

135

0.51

22

30

Management by understanding as distinct from management by objectives or authority - each employee understands the whole organization, making decisions in fast-changing environment.

6.25

153

0.47

23

11

Transinstitutions- combined institutional actions, conducted across institutional lines.

6.24

154

0.54

24

15

Global minimum living wage applied per local conditions

6.21

172

0.37

25

7

Internet as the principle trading market, bypassing New York, London, and other current trading floors.

6.15

180

0.36

26

4

A new global reserve currency to relieve pressure on the US dollar (e.g., Special Drawing Rights from the IMF, as in the Chinese proposal, or a basket of other currencies).

6.03

172

0.43

27

17

Labels on financial instruments, something like nutrition labels on food

5.86

151

0.30

28

24

Permanent property rights of Indigenous peoples’ bio-resources.

5.77

155

0.30

29

2

Global mechanisms for automatic financial stabilization; e.g., international convention for automated system (expert software) to make financial policy changes as economic conditions change, conducted initially in larger economic countries.

5.02

180

0.01

30

13

Single global currency.

4.94

168

0.06

31

14

Artificial life (as computers were a key element in the information economy, so too artificial life might be a key to the next economy)

4.58

163

0.20

32

21

Internationalization of labor unions.

4.40

163

0.27

33

25

Automatic annual assessment of individuals' economic performance in the previous year (similar to credit rating).

4.03

145

0.43

34

10

Artificial economies emerging in virtual worlds (e.g. Second Life), which include both mirror images of our real world economy and a far richer palette of values and metaphors driving these virtual economies.

3.98

159

0.41

35

3

New local currencies that are valid only in some cities and local areas.

2.73

179

0.80

It is worth noting that levels of agreement were high for all of the top rated elements (in other words, there was agreement that these were important), as well as for the single lowest rated element (“New local currencies”- in other words, there was high agreement that that this element was the least important of all the elements considered).

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The level of agreement was computed as follows. The number of respondents answering the question of importance with a “1’ or “2.5” (the lower two possibilities) was compared to the number answering with “7.5” or  “10” (the upper two possibilities) using the formula:
level of agreement= abs(upper count-lower count/(upper count +lower count).
Thus if the two groups had an equal count, the score would be zero, if all of the answers were in the upper (or lower) group, the score would be 1.00.

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The full study is available in the State of the Future, 2009 edition and after.