Understanding the New Economy: Systems Not Silos

William White made a presentation on 18 September, at a conference organized by the NAEC group at the OECD in Paris, on “Averting Systemic Collapse”. He argued that we need to embrace the idea (to understand, to accept the narrative) that the global economy is a complex, adaptive system where stocks (not flows) really matter. Public policy will be much improved if we accept this reality and the need for a systems approach to public policy. In contrast, the current belief  that we can understand the system by understanding its individual components ( a silo approach), has led to a potentially catastrophic buildup of stocks of debt and greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. These stocks threatens not only economic stability but even human  survival. At the same time, the “good will” required to find political solutions to these problems, affecting everyone, has seriously declined. At the least, there is an urgent need to change the prevailing analytical framework in economics.