Revisiting Keynes in the Light of the Transition to Circular Economy

Circ Econ Sustain. 2021;1(1):143-171. doi: 10.1007/s43615-021-00016-1. Epub 2021 Apr 8.


The study briefly recalls the evolution and crisis of the theory and thought of John Maynard Keynes with the rise and progressive dominance of the neoliberalism paradigm. The exercise has been made for evaluating the effects of such process for the sustainability of the global economy and society. In this view, we explored how Keynes' contribution could be useful for the global economy in building a new paradigm of socio-economic development underpinning the transition to circular economy (CE). We also evaluated the adoption of the Global Green New Deal including a case study of Italy for the purpose of suggesting how that topical political programme can be key in the CE transition. Given the urgency of environmental problems, we underline the importance of the adoption of Keynesian expansionary "green mission oriented" fiscal policies with the purpose of allowing the triggering of a virtuous circle of sustainable welfare involving the Green New deal and the transition to CE. At the basis of such virtuous circle, we propose a new paradigm based on a revisited Keynesian paradigm and models of economy within the framework of Genovesi's "civil economy" that entails an active role and responsibility of all the societal actors (consumers, companies and institutions). In this view, the "spirit" of Keynes in the economy, policy and society could be appreciated once more and be extremely useful along with other scholars' contributions in accelerating the CE transition and a more sustainable development.

Keywords: Circular economy; Expansionary fiscal policies; Green new deal; Keynes.