Monday, January 22, 2007

Compassionate Economist

The SF Chronicle published Rick DelVecchio's article today about John Letiche, a retired UC Berkeley economics professor who specializes in the interesting field of behavioral economics.

"He says all well-functioning national economies have one thing in common, and it doesn't matter their size or how far apart they are politically and culturally: Their leaders know what motivates their people and they provide incentives -- stable currency, balanced budgets, unemployment and health insurance -- that boost individuals' optimism and desire to work, invest and spend."

While Letiche is a fan of markets and globalization, it's interesting to note that he's advocating a moderate stance to its implementation:

"globalization works for no nation without a moderately liberal social safety net in place."

You can access a PDF of Letiche's recent article on how "well-considered" macroecomic policies like this has helped in economic transitions in the Nov. 2006 issue of the Journal of Asian Economics. I wonder what he would think of the movement to include Gross National Happiness as one of these measurable incentives?

I'm interested in fostering entrepreneurial solutions to these "social safety nets", in particular, social entrepreneurship and social enterprise. In my other life I publish the Social Enterprise Reporter, an online business newsletter for social entrepreneurs, and I'll be blogging on this topic here for Greater Good.

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