Ideas for a fair, sustainable and resilient economy

New Economy Brief is a digital hub bringing together credible analysis and proposals on how to build a fairer, more sustainable and more resilient economy in the wake of Covid-19.

Over the last decade the world has experienced a series of profound economic problems - from the financial crash to the climate crisis, from rising inequality to the far-reaching impact of the Covid pandemic. Across the political spectrum many people are now arguing for fundamental changes to the way our economies work and how they are governed.

At the same time there has been a flourishing of new economic thinking: both analysis of the way the economy has been changing, and proposals for how it can be redesigned. Some new policies and ways of organising business and society are already being put into practice; many others are being powerfully advocated.

New Economy Brief aims to provide an accessible resource to help navigate these debates.

We seek out robust analysis and innovative, forward-thinking proposals from a wide range of organisations, thinkers and practitioners, in the UK and around the world, and bring them together in one place so that they can be more widely understood and debated.

New Economy Brief is a project of the Economic Change Unit, a UK-based non-profit organisation which aims to support and amplify the efforts of those seeking to build a fair, sustainable and resilient economy. We work with a wide variety of policy makers, academics, think tanks, campaign groups, public bodies, businesses, trade unions and civil society organisations to help promote new economic thinking and practice.

ECU is funded by Friends Provident Foundation, the Omidyar Network and Partners for a New Economy.

For more information, find us at econchange.org.

Michael Jacobs
Managing Editor

Michael Jacobs is Professor of Political Economy at the University of Sheffield and the co-founder of the Economic Change Unit. He was formerly a member of the Council of Economic Advisers at the UK Treasury, and a Special Adviser to Prime Minister Gordon Brown. He was a founder and senior adviser to the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, and Director of the IPPR Commission on Economic Justice.

Michael's books include The Green Economy: Environment, Sustainable Development and the Politics of the Future (Pluto Press, 1991), Rethinking Capitalism: Economics and Policy for Sustainable and Inclusive Growth (edited with Mariana Mazzucato, Wiley Blackwell 2016) and Prosperity and Justice: A Plan for the New Economy (the final report of the IPPR Commission on Economic Justice, IPPR / Polity, 2018).

Sarah-Jayne Clifton
Executive Director, Economic Change Unit

Sarah-Jayne Clifton became Executive Director of ECU in March 2021. She was formerly Director of Jubilee Debt Campaign, a UK charity working to stop debt causing poverty and inequality in the UK and globally. Before that, she led policy development, campaigns and coalition-building on climate change, corporate accountability and trade for Friends of the Earth UK and Friends of the Earth International.

Sarah-Jayne has a BA in geography from the University of Oxford and a Masters in international politics from the School of Oriental and African Studies. She is a trustee of Transparency International.

George Edwards
Assistant Editor

George is Programme Officer at ECU, joining originally as an intern in June 2020. George previously worked as a researcher for the Centre for Local Economic Strategies. Originally from the Wirral on Merseyside, George holds a first class BA in philosophy, politics and economics and an MA in social and political thought, both from the University of Leeds.

International Advisory Board

New Economy Brief is advised by an International Advisory Board. Members of the Board serve in a personal capacity. They are not responsible for the site’s contents and should not be taken as agreeing with or endorsing any particular element of it.

Sharan Burrow
General Secretary, International Trade Union Confederation

Sharan Burrow was elected General Secretary of the ITUC in 2010, having formerly been its founding President. Originally a teacher, she was elected President of the Australian Education Union in 1992 and in 2000 President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions. She has served as a member of the Governing Body of the International Labour Organisation and is a member or ambassador of a number of international commissions on climate action, industrial transition and economic reform.

Miatta Fahnbulleh
Chief Executive, New Economics Foundation

Miatta Fahnbulleh has been Chief Executive of NEF, a leading UK think tank organising for economic change, since 2017. She was formerly Director of Policy and Research at the Institute of Public Policy Research and before that worked at senior levels for the Leader of the Opposition, the Cabinet Office, and the Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit. Her policy work has ranged across local economic growth, devolution, housing, energy, climate change and transport. She is a regularly commentator in both print and broadcast media.

Thomas Fricke
Director, Forum for a New Economy

Thomas Fricke established Forum for a New Economy in Berlin in 2019 as a community of economists and leaders in Europe engaging with the world’s most significant challenges. He was formerly Chief Economist at the European Climate Foundation and before that Chief Economist of Financial Times Deutschland, for whom he wrote a widely-read weekly column. He has been awarded the Franco-German Prize for Journalism and his book Wieviel Bank Braucht der Mensch? (How Much Bank Do We Need?) won the getAbstract International Book Award.

Daniela Gabor
Professor of Economics and Macro-Finance, UWE Bristol

Daniela Gabor is an expert on the financial system and monetary policy. Her research and writing focuses on shadow banking and its implications for monetary theory, central banking, and financial regulation; the involvement of transnational banks in policy on capital controls and crisis management, particularly in emerging markets; and the policies of the International Monetary Fund. She is the author of Central Banking and Financialization (2010).

Jayati Ghosh
Professor of Economics, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Jayati Ghosh taught economics at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi for nearly 35 years, and is the author of around 200 scholarly articles. She has authored and/or edited 20 books, including The Making of a Catastrophe: Covid-19 and the Indian Economy (forthcoming 2021), Women Workers in the Informal Economy (2021) and the Handbook of Alternative Theories of Economic Development (2014). The recipient of several awards, she has advised governments in India and elsewhere, consulted for a number of international organisations including ILO, UNDP, UNCTAD and UN Women, and is a member of several international boards and commissions.

Susan Himmelweit
Emeritus Professor of Economics, Open University

Susan Himmelweit is a feminist economist whose research focuses on the gender implications of economic and social policy, the economics and policy of caring and intra-household inequalities. She was the founding Chair of the UK Women's Budget Group, a think tank that analyses the gender impact of government policy, and a past President of the International Association for Feminist Economics. She has served on various advisory boards and commissions, including the Equality and Human Rights Commission and WBG’s Commission on a Gender Equal Economy.

Tim Jackson
Professor of Sustainable Development, University of Surrey

Tim Jackson is an ecological economist and Director of the multidisciplinary Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity (CUSP). His books include Prosperity without Growth (2009/2017) which has been translated into 17 languages and was named as a Financial Times ‘book of the year’, and Post Growth – Life after Capitalism (2021). His current research focuses on building a new ecological macroeconomics. He has advised the UK Government, the United Nations, the European Commission, numerous NGOs, private companies and foundations. He is also a playwright.

Carys Roberts
Executive Director, Institute for Public Policy Research

Carys Roberts was appointed Executive Director of the leading UK think tank IPPR in 2020, having formerly been Chief Economist and Head of its Centre for Economic Justice. Her research has focused on labour markets, automation and wealth inequality, and she was a principal contributor to the final report of the IPPR Commission on Economic Justice, Prosperity and Justice (2018). She previously worked at the Royal Society of Arts, the Social Mobility Foundation and the Institute for Fiscal Studies. She is a regular contributor to both print and broadcast media.

Dani Rodrik
Ford Foundation Professor of International Political Economy, Harvard Kennedy School

Dani Rodrik has published widely in the areas of economic development, international economics and political economy. His current research focuses on employment and economic growth, in both developing and advanced economies. The recipient of numerous awards, he is currently President of the International Economic Association and co-director of the Economics for Inclusive Prosperity network. His books include Straight Talk on Trade: Ideas for a Sane World Economy (2017), Economics Rules: The Rights and Wrongs of the Dismal Science (2015), and The Globalization Paradox: Democracy and the Future of the World Economy (2011).

Julia Steinberger
Professor of Societal Challenges of Climate Change, University of Lausanne

Julia Steinberger researches and teaches in the interdisciplinary areas of ecological economics and industrial ecology. Her research examines the connections between resource use (energy and materials, greenhouse gas emissions) and societal performance (economic activity and human wellbeing). She is the recipient of a Leverhulme Research Leadership Award for her research project ‘Living Well Within Limits’. She is Lead Author for the IPCC’s 6th Assessment Report Working Group 3.

Chris Turner
Executive Director, B Lab UK

Chris Turner leads B Lab UK, a charity which certifies businesses (B Corps) that demonstrate the best environmental and social impact and seeks to build a global network of B Corps businesses and leaders. Having begun his career in marketing, he led two successful startups, and built a portfolio of innovative international development projects for a major foundation. Prior to joining B Lab UK, Chris led an Open Innovation consultancy practice, advising a wide range of clients on innovation and strategy. He has worked in the US, Europe and Africa.

Felicia Wong
President and CEO, Roosevelt Institute

Felicia Wong leads the Roosevelt Institute, a US think tank, student network, and nonprofit partner to the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum. Her own research focuses on post-neoliberal thought and the intersection of race, economics and social stratification. She is the author of The Emerging Worldview: How New Progressivism Is Moving Beyond Neoliberalism (2020) and co-author of The Hidden Rules of Race: Barriers to an Inclusive Economy (2017). She is a regular contributor to the US media.

Bevis Watts
CEO, Triodos Bank UK.

Bevis Watts heads Triodos Bank UK, the wholly-owned UK subsidiary of Triodos Bank, a global leader in sustainable banking. He has spent over 20 years working on sustainability in the private, public and voluntary sectors, including as Chief Executive of Avon Wildlife Trust and Head of Business Support at the Waste and Resource Action Programme (WRAP). He was inaugural Chair of the West of England Nature Partnership. Advisory roles have included the steering committees for the Banking Futures project and the UK government's taskforce on impact investing.

New Economy Brief brings together ideas from a wide range of sources, including research institutes, academics, think tanks, international institutions, business groups, trade unions, and civil society organisations and campaigns.

The multiple economic crises of the last decade and more have led many people to conclude that advanced economies need significant reform. Our economies are environmentally unsustainable, they have generated huge inequalities (both between and within countries), they no longer seem to promote general wellbeing, and they have proved alarmingly non-resilient in the face of financial, environmental and pandemic shocks.

But reform needs to be more than tinkering. There is an increasing recognition that wholesale changes in economic thinking, policy and practice are required.

Such changes are sometimes described by social scientists as ‘paradigm shifts’. Two such shifts occurred  in the last century. After both the Great Depression of the 1930s, and the economic turmoil of the 1970s, fundamental changes occurred in economic theory, discourse and policy. In the 1940s laissez faire gave way to Keynesian full employment, which in turn in the 1980s ceded the orthodoxy to free markets, privatisation and small government.

Since the financial crash of 2008, and in the subsequent decade of austerity, rising inequality, political upheaval, climate emergency and pandemic, economic ideas and policies have again been in flux.

It is perhaps not surprising then that many people are arguing that another paradigm shift is urgently needed.

New Economy Brief aims to draw together the ideas, policies and practices which could together constitute such a change. Many of the individual authors and organisations we cite may not themselves be arguing for a wholesale paradigm shift. We make no claim that they would all agree with one another. But we do think that, across the spectrum of issues around which we have organised the site – from environmental sustainability to financial reform, from new kinds of businesses to the reduction of inequalities – a coherent and comprehensive body of new thinking has emerged.

And it is not just thinking. Increasingly, across the UK and across the world, many different types of communities, organisations and businesses are seeking to build a new economy in practice.

For more on these ideas, please visit the ‘Changing the Paradigm’ pages of the Resource Bank.

At present New Economy Brief is focused on the UK, and much of the material on the site has come from UK-based sources. But ideas flow freely across borders, so we hope that those we have collected here will be of value to readers elsewhere, and we hope in future to increase the geographical breadth of the site. We are also endeavouring to ensure that the individual authors we cite are diverse, particularly in terms of gender and ethnicity.

New economic thinking is constantly evolving and developing. It’s an exciting time. But it means that there will always be much that we have missed, or failed to include. We are very keen to have such omissions and new material suggested to us. Please use the ‘Submit ideas’ button on the Resource Bank page.