I have been asked many a time to give presentations and briefings on “the economy”. Further, the past weeks have seen many clamour for action from government to save “the economy”.
Every time I encounter these statements, I am led to ask the unwritten question: what is “the economy”. Is it machine or beast? Is it mechanical or animal? Is it domesticated or does it range wild? And, where did it come from?
Why is it so important that the decision to impose a Level 4 lockdown drew many gasps of breath, exclamations and pleadings: “but what about the economy?”
Many (if not most) of these instances assume a business or financial perspective on “the economy”. Hence, the “save the economy” mantra is translated to “we need to save/protect/restore the income and profits of businesses and organisations”.
But “the economy” should be viewed through a much broader perspective. Our role of kaitiaki of taonga (rather than consumer of resources) comes to mind. The importance of wellbeing outcomes should be central, rather than increased productivity and profitability.
A broader perspective would mean that “saving the economy” would highlight changes required for the economy to deliver wellbeing.