Letter: The wrong economy

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Fifteen thousand words in your 1 February issue on "the state of the world economy" and not one reference to those essential prerequisites of a healthy global economy: the environment and sustainable development.

Encouragingly, the articles do include reflections on social dimensions, highlighting the need to address the gross inequalities generated by existing financial and economic systems. However, there is host of long-standing evidence that present measures of economic and financial success are dangerously misleading if we are genuinely seeking to gauge human and environmental welfare.

Much economic "success" simply ignores the actual social and environmental costs - whether these are local or global. A key aim for the millennium must be to devise measures of progress that give a properly rounded picture. Such measures would show, for example, that the US economy is in grave danger of "defaulting" - on its obligations to stabilise carbon dioxide emissions, and that throughout the developed world, many patterns and elements of consumer spending are positively harmful. Are our "global financial architects" up to these challenges?