An Introduction to Demand Management, Long-Run Growth and Global Economic Governance
Chapter 13: Global Public Goods
In this Part we will depart from the key abstraction of Earth Economics and look at some of the implications of the fact that people have always organized themselves at lower levels of aggregation than at the planetary level. People typically view themselves as being part of a nation, region or city and not (yet) as inhabitants of a specific planet. The practical way forward to making decisions at the planetary level has therefore always been through the cooperation of lower level aggregates. Actually that is also what happened earlier in history when nation states were built. Cities cooperated and became regions. Regions cooperated and became countries. Typically, lower transportation costs, easier communication and travel over longer distances and greater mobility increased the level at which cooperation was sought and achieved. An optimistic idealist would therefore probably stress that post Second World War cooperation increased substantially with many supranational forms of international cooperation. A rational realist would, however, point out that the power play of nations is here to stay, that collective global action is difficult to organize and that global public goods are undersupplied. In this chapter I will give the floor to the realist approach. The key question that we will study is how the economic conditions for the demand and supply of global public goods have developed over time (and in Chapter 14 we will try to glean a bit into the future). I do so for two reasons: public goods are essential for the functioning of any economy (so also for Earth) and a global financial-economic policy is a global public good in itself.
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