The Ecological Citizen: A peer-reviewed ecocentric journal

Long article

Against steady-state economics

Troy Vettese

The Ecological Citizen Vol 3 Suppl B 2020: 35–46

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First published: 21 February 2020  |  Permanent URL  |  Download citation in RIS format


Underlying Herman Daly's ecological economics is a faith in markets, neo-liberal regulatory tools and theory, and Malthusianism. While Daly criticizes economic growth, he overestimates the ability of regulation to contain a capitalist economy within a 'steady-state'. Cap-and-trade is his main tool to regulate a steady-state economy, even though that tool emerged from neo-liberal thought and has been instrumental in stymying the environmental movement's progress. Moreover, the neo-liberal Julian Simon developed a powerful critique of environmentalism in the 1980s, which Daly has not responded to. Over the last half-century, neo-liberal environmental thought has cast a shadow over ecological economics, even though Daly seems unable to perceive its influence on his life's work. If the environmental movement wants to win the fight, then it needs an entirely new ecological economics.



Ecological economics, Eco-socialism, Neo-liberalism, Overpopulation, Sustainability