Featured Debate: Do Energy Limits Require a New Economic Framework?

There is widespread agreement that the petroleum age is entering a new era–some see shifting dynamics for oil as evidence of limits, others see new potential abundance.  Either way, the future of oil is likely to look very different from its past.  Production costs are trending upward.  Higher prices may follow, but the forecast is complicated by the effect that costs and prices have on the economy.

Given the unprecedented economic expansion over the past century has been powered by abundant and relatively inexpensive oil and other fossil fuels, how would rising costs of oil production costs and chronic oil supply constraints affect the performance of the U.S. and global economy?  How would conventional economic indicators—such as GNP, inflation, interest rates, and employment–be affected?  Are alternate metrics needed?  What would economic “growth” and “development” look like in a future with increasingly scarce oil?

This session examines and debates these fundamental questions about the connection between energy and the economy.

James Galbraith
Professor of Economics and Chair of Business-Government Relation, Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, The University of Texas

James Galbraith holds the Lloyd M. Bentsen, Jr., Chair of Government/Business Relations at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, the University of Texas at Austin, and a professorship in Government. Galbraith’s most recent book, Inequality and Instability was published in February 2012 by Oxford University Press.


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