The Economics of Enough: How to Run the Economy as if the Future Matters
PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS, 2011
I had for a while been an occasional reader of a blog entitled 'the Economics of Enough' (http://economicsofenough.blogspot.co.uk/), detailing the author's work-in-progress on a book of the same name, when I read a post last year announcing it was about to be published. My excitement was replaced by disappointment, laced with sympathy, when I realised the book that was coming out was not by the blog's author, David Fell, but by someone else, the economist Diane Coyle. Fell explained:
It's my own silly fault, of course. I spent five years telling everyone I was working on a book called The Economics of Enough; I spent bloody ages actually drafting the thing; and I had an agent in 2009 who gaily took the title to the Frankfurt book-fair where it begin a life of its own. Who could blame the publisher who heard the great title, but also heard that the text itself was too long and that the author was someone no-one had ever heard of? A much better idea, surely, to publish something by an established and capable author. (Fell, 2011) Now, this wasn't alleging anything underhand. Apart from anything else, 'The Economics of Enough' is such a good title it's a surprise someone else hadn't thought of it already. And just because the title's been bagged by someone else doesn't mean the book David Fell was working on can't still come out, simply called something else. No disaster here, then.
And yet ... The problem is that the book Diane Coyle has written takes that title and makes a travesty of it. It's an indication of the power of its title that the book has been as favourably reviewed as it has: most reviewers can't help praising the book they expected to read rather than the one actually between the covers.
Given how positive some of these reviews have been, the arguments conjured up by the phrase 'the economics of enough' are obviously ones whose time has come. What the title suggests is a book that questions the growthmania of contemporary capitalism. Coyle's book has, in this way, been made recommended reading by a group which promotes no-growth economics; and featured in a list, compiled by the editor of a journal on sustainability, of recent books on the need for a new economy, alongside works such as Tim Jackson's Prosperity Without Growth (Jackson, 2009).
But let us spell out how misguided such views are--or rather, let Coyle...