The 2008 economic crisis, which often is appraised only as a “financial crisis”, has in fact acquired a manifold character involving the socio-economic structures at worldwide level. Indeed, the crisis was triggered in the financial sector ─ in particular, with the crisis of the subprime mortgage market in the US, which ended up in a general banking crisis and the bankruptcy among many other institutions, and of the investment bank Lehman Brothers. But at the same time this event marked the culmination of a long-term trend of financialisation of the economic system, which gained more impetus with the neo-liberal shift of the 1980s.
Many studies, starting from Hyman Minsky’s seminal contributions on the effects of “financialisation” on the instability of the system, have investigated a number of imbalances that help to explain the widespread character of the crisis. After the bail-outs aimed at stabilising the financial markets, mainly between 2008 and 2011, it has been increasingly clear that deep structural and intertwined problems overwhelm the economic, political and social scenarios. Among them, we can highlight the following ones:
growing disparities of income between persons and economic areas, often accompanied by severe forms of poverty,
inflated financial markets, low investment trends and changes in the patterns of production and employment,
environmental unsustainability of the current way of production and consumption,
increasing unemployment, mainly among the youth, in the context of the adoption of disruptive technological innovations,
growing risks in the worldwide geopolitical contexts with a resurgence of massive migrations, xenophobia and armed conflicts.
This Conference addresses the fact that, after 10 years, structural problems are still present and waiting for policy responses. As a matter of fact, the policies addressing the crisis have rarely gone beyond “emergency measures”, such as bank recapitalisation, debt consolidation, and various forms of “quantitative easing”, sometimes accompanied by moderately expansive fiscal policies. These measures, while having the merit of avoiding a complete collapse (like that of the 1929 crisis) and allowing a slight recovery in some cases, are far from solving the structural aspects of the crisis.
With this background consideration, this Conference seeks to investigate into the challenges of economic theory and policy applications. In particular, this conference’s guiding question is how to render objectives of full employment, social justice, environmental sustainability, scientific and technological progress more compatible with each other.