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Q&A with CAP member: Ann Pettifor

Mar 22, 2021

Briefly describe your background, interests & areas of expertise?

My background is in macroeconomics. In 2010 I set up a network of mainly Keynesian economists with the following as its mission: “We consider that conventional or ‘mainstream’ economic theory has proved of almost no relevance to the ongoing and chronic failure of the global economy and to the gravest threat facing us all: climate change.”

 

What does circularity in the textiles industry mean to you?

Given that we have to move to a world based on ‘sufficiency’ not ‘efficiency’, circularity in the textiles industry will be vital if we are to end continuous consumption of scarce resources – and to ensure the population has access to the clothing necessary to human survival

 

What does your company/organisation do to bring about circularity (core relevant activities/commitments, highlight short and long term goals, if relevant).

My company undertakes high level economic advocacy aimed at key figures in government departments, but also public and private finance sectors, with the aim of bringing about the economic framework needed to sustain a liveable economy, which given the ecosystem’s finite assets, is a necessity for a circular economy.

 

What made your decision to join the CAP?

I have known Cyndi Rhoades for a long time, having met her way back at the New Economics Foundation when these ideas of circularity were regarded as marginal and frankly unrealisable. I wanted to support the extraordinary work she has done in establishing this company.

 

How important is this Circular Advisory Panel approach for preparing a company like WA for the market (i.e. a business starting out with the sole purpose of enabling circularity but entering the market in ‘linear times’)? What do you think it will bring to the company?

We are living in uncertain times, but also in a time when change and innovation is taking place at a faster rate than ever before. Companies that are deaf or blind to a) the macroeconomic environment and changes to that environment and b) fast-changing public and consumer opinion – are likely to face losses and failure. I believe the CAP can act as a sounding board and as a forum for alerting executives of possible threats, when the latter are busy at ‘the coal face’ of day-to-day company management. I was one of the few to warn of the Great Financial Crisis in my book: ‘The Coming First World Debt Crisis’ published in September 2006. In 2010 I warned of the flaws in economic policy that led to a decade of very weak economic growth, and a stunted recovery. When this morphed into the shock that was the Coronavirus pandemic, government and private sector companies were ill prepared, and faced tremendous losses. Societies and economies face future shocks, including future pandemics, as the Oxford Professor, Ian Goldin warned in his book: The Butterfly Defect, published in 2014. Company executives need to be alive to these threats and the opportunities they pose.

 

What do you believe the biggest hurdles/opportunities for transitioning to a new circular business mindset will be, for WA, for the industry?

The failure to be alive to changing consumer habits. Only today Greta Thunberg has announced she will not be buying new clothes.

 

Name 3 things you think businesses will be doing differently in a circular future.

  1. Reversing focus on shareholder value
  2. borrowing less and
  3. employing more people.

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