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The Tyranny of 'Efficiencyism'

Hanns-Jürgen Hodann
'Efficiencyism’  can be described as a blind belief in the effectiveness of efficiency measures without taking into account circumstances and the wider context.   The graph on the left shows how the frequent use of the term 'efficiency' at the level of local interactons can lead to the emergence of  'efficiencyism' through upward causation, denoted by the arrows pointing upwards.  However, there is also downward causation from the global level depicted by the red arrows which can increase the blind application of efficiency measures at the local level. In other words, efficiency for the sake of efficiency becomes a dominant idea.  The tyrannical influence of 'eficiencyism' affects all of us to varying degrees and unfortunately can often have very negative side effects, such as an increase in unemployment, social injustice and even increase inequality.  Of  course, well thought out efficiency improvements can also bring great  benefits.   I recommend reading an excellent article by Dr. Charles Chandler, who explains the term 'efficiencyism' with some excellent examples and also points to some  of its undesirable effects.

Social Systems SystemsThinking Downward Causation Emergence Efficiency Economy

  • 1 year 6 months ago


Hanns-Jürgen Hodann
​In a recent report, the World Economic Forum considered that the use of robots in economic activity will cause far more job losses in the near future than there will be new ones created. Every economic sector will be affected. The CLD tries to illustrate the dynamic effects of replacing human workers with robots. This  dynamic  indicates that if there is no replacement of the  income forgone by the laid off workers, then the economy will soon grind to a halt. To avoid disaster, there must be enough money in circulation, not parked in off-shore investments, to permit the purchase of all the goods and services produced by robots. The challenge for the government is to make sure that this is  case.  

Robots Economy Social Employment

  • 2 years 2 months ago

Irrational rejection of ''Modern Monetary Theory''.

Hanns-Jürgen Hodann
Modern Monetary theory (MMT) has shown how modern monetary systems actually work. It has shown  that governments that issue their own currency, such as the US, can never run out of money or be forced to default on debt issued in their own currency. It has also demonstrated that government spending to stimulate the economy is logical and that the resulting deficit is irrelevant - the government always has the monetary means to eliminate it. This directly contradicts neoliberal doctrine that wants to limit government spending and posits that deficits destabilize the economy. Neoliberalism often constitutes a 'worldview' and 'personal identity'. Those who hold such strong beliefs cannot be persuaded to abandon them using rational arguments and facts - psychological reasons usually impede it as research has shown. The worldwide dominance of the doctrine, vested interests and psychologically grounded opposition suffocate MMT and rational arguments showing its superiority are seemingly of no avail. 

Economy MMT Neoliberalism Finance

  • 2 years 1 week ago


Hanns-Jürgen Hodann

Wealth can be seen as the factories, infrastructure, goods and services the population of a nation dispose of. According to Tim Garrett,  a scientist who looks at the economy from the perspective of physics, it is existing wealth that generates economic activity and growth. This growth demands the use of energy as no activity can take place without its use. He also points out that the use of this energy unavoidably  leads to concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere.  All this, Tim Garrett says,  follows from the second law of thermodynamics.  If wealth decreases then so does economic activity and growth. The CLD tries to illustrate how wealth, ironically, now generates the conditions and feedback loops  that  may cause it to decline. The consequences are  inevitably economic  stagnation (or secular recession?). 

You can read about the connection Tim Garrett makes between 'Wealth, Economic Growth, Energy and CO2  Emissions' simply by Googling 'Tim Garrett and Economy'.

Economy Global Warming Resource Depletion

  • 2 years 1 month ago

Fallacy of Spending Cuts

Hanns-Jürgen Hodann
The upper diagram shows the principal factors that have an influence on the budget deficit and indicates what needs to be done to correct it. But this is not the full story. The diagram below shows that  cutting public expenditure reduces aggregate demand and  increases unemployment. The reduction of aggregate demand  reduces  economic activity which has the effect of reducing  tax revenue.  In addition, the state has to pay out funds as there is a need for more unemployment benefit payments.   The result of these austerity measures  is often the opposite of their intended purpose: they can increase rather than decrease the budget deficit.

There is plenty of empiric evidence to show that this has happened time and time again. For instance, a report from UNCTAD (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development) found that between 1990 and 2000 in all the  cases examined where cutbacks in public spending and tax increases were used, the fiscal situation did not only not improve but worsened. Despite such repeated evidence, unfortunately calls for  austerity measures continue to be heard. 

Economy Economics

  • 4 years 12 months ago

Clone of Energy transition to lower EROI sources

Graham Palmer
The significance of reduced energy return on energy invested (EROI) in the transition from fossil fuel to renewable primary energy sources is often disputed by both renewable energy proponents and mainstream economists.​ This model is a first attempt to illustrate the impact of EROI in large-scale energy transition using a system dynamics approach. The variables of primary interest here are: 1) net energy available to "the rest of the economy" as renewable penetration increases [Total final energy services out to the economy]; and 2) the size of the energy sector as a proportion of overall economic activity, treating energy use as a very rough proxy for size [Energy services ratio].
This model aggregates energy use in the form of fuels and electricity as a single variable, total final energy services, and treats the global economy as a single closed system.
The model includes all major incumbent energy sources, and assumes a transition to wind, PV, hydro and nuclear generated electricity, plus biomass electricity and fuels. Hydro, biomass and nuclear growth rates are built into the model from the outset, and wind and PV emplacement rates respond to the built-in retirement rates for fossil energy sources, by attempting to make up the difference between the historical maximum total energy services out to the global economy, and the current total energy services out. Intermittency of PV and wind are dealt with via Li-ion battery storage. Note, however, that seasonal variation of PV is not addressed i.e. PV is modeled using annual and global average parameters. For this to have anything close to real world validity, this would require that all PV capacity is located in highly favourable locations in terms of annual average insolation, and that energy is distributed from these regions to points of end use. The necessary distribution infrastructure is not included in the model at this stage.
It is possible to explore the effect of seasonal variation with PV assumed to be distributed more widely by de-rating capacity factor and increasing the autonomy period for storage.

Energy EROI Economy

  • 3 years 11 months ago

Energy transition to lower EROI sources (v2.7)

Josh Floyd
A detailed description of all model input parameters is available here. These are discussed further here and here.

Update 26 October 2017 (v2.7): Updated historical wind and PV deployment data for 2015-2016, adding projected PV deployment for 2017. Data via and

Update 18 December 2016 (v2.7): Added feature to calculate a global EROI index for all energy sources plus intermittency buffering (currently batteries only, but this could be diversified). The index is calculated specifically in terms of energy services in the form of work and heat. That is, it takes the aggregated energy services made available by all sources as the energy output term, and the energy services required to provided the buffered output as the energy input term.

Update 29 June 2016 (v2.6): Added historical emplacement for wind and PV capacity. The maximum historical emplacement rates are then maintained from year 114/115 until the end of the model period. This acts as a base emplacement rate that is then augmented with the contribution made via the feedback control mechanism. Note that battery buffering commences only once the additional emplacement via the feedback controller kicks in. This means that there is a base capacity for both wind and PV for which no buffering is provided, slightly reducing the energy services required for wind and PV supplies, as well as associated costs. Contributions from biomass and nuclear have also been increased slightly, in line with the earlier intention that these should approximately double during the transition period. This leads to a modest reduction in the contributions required from wind and PV.

Added calculation of global mean conversion efficiency energy to services on primary energy basis. This involves making an adjustment to the gross energy outputs for all thermal electricity generation sources. The reason for this is that standard EROI analysis methodology involves inclusion of energy inputs on a primary energy equivalent basis. In order to convert correctly between energy inputs and energy service inputs, the reference conversion efficiency must therefore be defined on a primary energy basis. Previously, this conversion was made on the basis of the mean conversion efficiency from final energy to energy services.

Update 14 December 2015 (v2.5): correction to net output basis LCOE calculation, to include actual self power demand for wind, PV and batteries in place of "2015 reference" values.

Update 20 November 2015 (v2.4): levelised O&M costs now added for wind & PV, so that complete (less transmission-related investments) LCOE for wind and PV is calculated, for both gross and net output.

Update 18 November 2015 (v2.3: development of capital cost estimates for wind, PV and battery buffering, adding levelised capital cost per unit net output, for comparison with levelised capital cost per unit gross output. Levelised capital cost estimate has been substantially refined, bringing this into line with standard practice for capital recovery calculation. Discount rate is user adjustable.

Default maximum autonomy periods reduced to 48 hours for wind and 72 hours for PV.

Update 22 October 2015 (v2.2): added ramped introduction of wind and PV buffering capacity. Wind and PV buffering ramps from zero to the maximum autonomy period as wind and PV generated electricity increases as a proportion of overall electricity supply. The threshold proportion for maximum autonomy period is user adjustable. Ramping uses interpolation based on an elliptical curve between zero and the threshold proportion, to avoid discontinuities that produce poor response shape in key variables.

Update 23 September 2015 (v2.1): added capital investment calculation and associated LCOE contribution for wind generation plant, PV generation plant and storage batteries.

**This version (v2.0) includes refined energy conversion efficiency estimates, increasing the global mean efficiency, but also reducing the aggressiveness of the self-demand learning curves for all sources. The basis for the conversion efficiencies, including all assumptions relating to specific types of work & heat used by the economy, is provided in this Excel spreadsheet.

Conversion of self power demand to energy services demand for each source is carried out via a reference global mean conversion efficiency, set as a user input using the global mean conversion efficiency calculated in the model at the time of transition commencement (taken to be the time for which all EROI parameter values are defined. A learning curve is applied to this value to account for future improvement in self power demand to services conversion efficiency.**

The original "standard run" version of the model is available here.

Energy EROI Economy

  • 1 year 7 months ago


Hanns-Jürgen Hodann
Peak oil will occur when it is too expensive to bring oil to the surface and not when reserves reach their limit. Companies must make a profit to be able to extract oil and stay in the oil business.  However, that endeavour is becoming more and more difficult because of diminishing returns. They have to dig ever deeper to get to the oil  at ever increasing costs, and the oil they find deep down is of a lesser quality.  We have now reached a point where the price needed by oil companies to make a profit and stay in business is far higher than the price  the market can bear. That price is probably about $ 100 per barrel - and rising every year! A market price o $ 100 will almost certainly cause a sharp recession and cause the price of oil to fall back beyond the point of profitability. For example, the combined profit of ExxonMobile, Chevron and Conocophillips fell from 80.4 billion in 2011 to only 3.7 billon in 2016 - see URL below. What the market can bear depends on the spending power of the mass of non-elite workers. The CLD shows the negative feedback loops that prevent oil prices to rise above the level of  affordability. If non-elite workers cannot afford the goods and services offered,  then there will be no demand for them and by extension for oil.  In this situation the market price will not the cover the cost that oil companies need to extract oil. Oil supplies will decline and so will economic activity!

Peak Oil Oil Industry Economy Oil Prices

  • 1 year 8 months ago

Investor Allocation Model

Edwin Gary Schasteen
The following is a start to modeling the investment funds and work flow cycle for a company. This simulates how a fixed resource gets distributed among 3 investors and how the investors can lose those funds back to the investment system. The model assumes at this stage that the amount of money available for investment is fixed over the time period in which the dynamics is unfolding. This can be adjusted as the model is further developed.


  • 3 years 10 months ago