Francesco Economy

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Ladislau Dowbor:

"Pope Francis called on a global meeting in 2020 to address a new economy, symbolically named the Francesco Economy. The proposal is associated with the views of Saint Francis of Assisi. The city of Saint Francis where the meeting was to be held. It is being postponed because of the pandemic. But the discussion of the proposed issues, basically “another economy”, gave rise to a broad movement by portions of different religious and non-religious communities. The movement gained more visibility with the direct participation of personalities like Jeffrey Sachs, Joseph Stiglitz, Amartya Sen, Vandana Shiva, Mohammad Yunus, Kate Raworth, among other internationally prominent figures, including Nobel laureates. The tenet that the economy should serve society and not the other way round is resonating deeply within people. We live in an era of staggering uncertainties and the pursuit of new models. The current system, based on individual profit maximization and deregulated corporate giants, is simply not working.

The Francesco Economy ( initiative aims “to make a commitment with the young people, beyond differences of beliefs and nationalities, to change the current economy and give a soul to that of tomorrow so that it is more just, sustainable and with active engagement by those who at present are excluded…Today more than ever, everything is deeply connected and the safeguarding of the environment cannot be divorced from ensuring justice for the poor and finding answers to the structural problems of the global economy. We need to correct models of growth incapable of guaranteeing respect for the environment, openness to life, concern for the family, social equality, the dignity of workers and the rights of future generations. Sadly, few have heard the appeal to acknowledge the gravity of the problems and, even more, to set in place a new economic model, the fruit of a culture of communion based on fraternity and equality.”

The idea is to rethink the role of the economy in society. After all, the economy should serve to improve our lives, rather than have billions struggling to access whatever “trickles down”. It seems there is a growing pressure for change, we must use good sense and reorder the arguments. An economy at the service of the common good should be economically viable, but also socially just and environmentally sustainable. This triple bottom-line defines a new balance and new forms of organization."


"The main topics we suggested for discussion, within the scope of the Economy of Francesco, are the following:

  • Economic democracy: To recover corporate governance, create transparent information systems, and generate more balance between the State, corporations, and civil society organizations. There will be no political democracy if we do not reach basic economic democracy.
  • Participative democracy: Decision-making about collective choices, about how we prioritize our use of resources, cannot depend solely on one vote every two or four years. With adequate information systems, decentralized management, and ample participation of the organized civil society, we must reach a new level of rationality in our economic and social organization. The new technologies and universal connectivity unlock immense potentials that must be explored.
  • Taxation on financial flows: Taxation is crucial to ensure we have information on speculative capitals and guarantee that financial resources serve to finance inequality reduction and to stimulate sustainable productive processes. Tax systems should serve to improve distributive balance and resource productivity.
  • Universal basic income: Within the broad view that access to basic goods and services should not be lacking to anyone, a simple and direct solution, especially with the modern transfer methods, is to ensure all adults have access to a basic income. These are not costs, since promoting simple consumption at the base of society boosts the economy and generates a corresponding return. This is not rewarding inactivity, it is about generating opportunities.
  • Social policies for universal, public and free access: Access to health, education, culture, security, housing and other basic aspects of life should be within absolute priorities. These are not costs but investments in people, which boost productivity and making household resources available for other forms of consumption.
  • Integrated local development: We are today essentially urban populations, and the fundamental policies that assure the well-being of communities and the sustainable management of natural resources must be rooted in each city, creating in this way economic, social, and environmental balance at the very base of society.
  • Financial systems as a public service: The money managed by the financial systems comes from our savings and taxes. This is the population’s resources, and must, accordingly, respond to the needs of sustainable development. Public banks, community banks, credit cooperatives and other solutions such as virtual currencies are essential so that our choices can count on the corresponding resources.
  • The knowledge economy: Knowledge constitutes today the main factor of production. As an immaterial and indefinitely replicable factor of production, it makes it possible to create a society not only adequately informed but also with universal and free access to the latest technological advances. We have to review the patent, copyright, and royalty rules of different types that unnecessarily block access to the advances. Knowledge is a factor of production that, unlike material goods, can be used and spread without generating new costs.
  • Democratic communication mediums: As right-wing populism gains ground and democratic processes erode, it becomes clear how the communication medium oligopoly generates unsustainable distortions, leading to more profound political divides, hatred and prejudice. An informed society is fundamental for the economy to function for the common good.
  • Pedagogy for economics: economics is essentially a set of rules agreed upon by society or imposed by interest groups. A democratic economy vitally depends on a generalized understanding of the mechanisms and rules of the economy. Obscure, pseudo-scientific curriculums must be substituted by tools for analyzing the real economy, so that we may form competent managers for an economy directed towards the common good."