Episode 41: John Fullerton

Episode 41: John Fullerton

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John Fullerton is the founder of the Capital Institute, a group dedicated to the modest task of rethinking the future of finance. Prior to his work at the Capital Institute, he was the Managing Director of JPMorgan.

If there is a moment that encapsulates my conversation with John, it is his suggestion that we need a new word that encompasses our interconnected environmental/economic system. Applying an investor’s sense of risk management to climate change, John sees our economic status quo as reckless and self-destructive. If we remain transfixed by our model of infinite growth in a finite system, John warns, we are likely to destabilize the natural capital underpinning our economy.

If you’re hoping John will swoop in with an easy solution here, you’re wrong. Transitioning away from an economy based on infinite growth is immensely risky in its own right. Efforts to stabilize the climate would come at the cost of leaving immensely valuable natural resources in the ground, devaluing many of our most important companies, and causing economic havoc.

This yields a choice which, John concludes, isn’t a choice at all: economic turbulence with a radically altered climate or economic turbulence without a radically altered climate.

As The Conversation grows larger and connections multiply, it is becoming harder for me to choose which connections to highlight. Here are a few that I haven’t linked back to recently: John is skeptical of the technological/market optimism voiced (however cautiously) by Colin Camerer. At the same time, his association of life with goodness takes us back to Chris McKay. Without any prompting by me, he cites the precautionary principle in a way that supports Carolyn Raffensperger and questions Max More.

Artwork by Eleanor Davis.