Most economists think economic growth can continue indefinitely, right?
It was easy to make economic theories that worked while we pumped more and more oil out of the ground, because whether you're a capitalist or a communist or a this-ist or a that-ist, they'd work—because there was more oil to make them work. We could afford all the corruption and inefficiencies in the past and still have quite a lot trickle down.
But now the pie is not getting that much bigger. Now, it's pretty clear that there's a lot of economic theories that aren't working very well.
How do these economic arguments relate to people’s day-to-day lives?
Doesn't it mean food on the table, a roof over your head, gas in your car—a car itself? So economics isn't really about money. It's about stuff. We've been toilet trained to think of economics as being about money, and to some degree it is. But fundamentally it's about stuff. And if it's about stuff, why are we studying it as a social science? Why are we not, at least equally, studying it as a biophysical science?
Hall recently co-authored a book on this biophysical perspective with economist Kent Klitgaard, Energy and the Wealth of Nations: Understanding the Biophysical Economy (Springer, 2011).