Expand your knowledge

At Corset Economy we started out with an idea and a systems framework to make sense of the rapidly changing world around us. In Scenario Planning we refer to this as a VUCA world – volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous – and if this doesn’t describe the last while we don’t know what does!

After 20+ years of working for major global organizations and corporations on scenario projects exploring global systems as diverse as the future of aviation and shipping, health and the home, to regulation and intellectual property rights, and finance, we concluded that the global system was changing. We’ve distilled all of that learning, insight and expert analysis on the biggest disruptive forces and trends into our vision of what is happening to our global economy.

This framework is meant to help organisations, policymakers, academics and Joan Public anticipate some different ways in which the future could unfold, because prospection – the act of looking forward in time or considering the future – enables us to come back to the present armed with new insights that enable us to do something. Knowledge is power. 

Continue reading to learn more about the four Corset Futures, the five Corset Laces that are pushing us towards them and the Corset Theory underpinning it all.

Slide Looking at the futures The Corset Economy dynamics will unfold in different ways, in different places, at different rates. We envisage four Corset Futures, stories that take us along divergent paths. TECHNOCRACY A world where tech interfaces mediate and monetise every human action and interaction INFORMAL A world where informality has become the inevitable destination for many entrepreneurs SURVEIL-STATE A world where governments monitor and control the actions of every citizen ReMAKER A world of resource limitations, with recycling and craftsmanship increasingly important Learn more

Slide Explore the laces There are five corset laces that together are causing the inevitable squeeze of the global economy.

Each of these global trends is a complex wicked problem in its own right, but it is the dynamics between them that create the inevitable corseting effect.

Monopolies Monopolies and Network Effects Traditionally, monopolies were localised and usually regulated, but no so in a digital economy.

Digitalisation lends itself to extreme winner-takes-all network effects that ‘lock in’ consumers and other businesses, effectively blocking competition. These monopolistic network effects are at a global level making them both impossible to regulate or unlock.
Debt Debt and the Social Contract The world is awash with debt. Levels of private and public debt have soared since the global financial crisis, now amplified by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Consumer debt is the lifeblood of the economy, so if and when debts are repaid, money will be diverted from production or consumption of the goods and services that keep the global economy in motion.
One Planet Earth One Planet Earth There is only one finite Planet Earth. Industrialisation has been extremely successful at improving the quality of life for a few billion people in the industrialised world, at the expense of our planetary health.

10 billion people now have similar aspirations, creating the risk of a perfect storm by 2030, when demand for critical resources – water, food and energy – exceeds supply.
World of Work World of Work Today’s jobs are increasingly part-time, on-call or ‘non-standard work’, with uncertain work and fluctuating income. Skills required for the workplace are fast becoming obsolete, with many tasks undertaken by a non-human workforce.

These changes to the world of work create economic precarity and psychological self-esteem which affects individual’s ability to contribute to the economy and society.
Misrules of the Game Misrules of the Game Regulations create the rules of the game for business. When they work well, they support a level playing field. When there is no ‘fair play’, or an equal opportunity to succeed, regulations risk becoming misrules that can be gamed.

Many regulations have been designed for a national physical economy, which makes them inadequate and inappropriate for the realities of the 21st century globalised digital economy. This perceived unfairness undermines trust in the system.

Slide Corset theory The mass middle is the lifeblood of our economy. When it is squeezed it creates a vicious cycle of reduced consumption, increased debt, a shrinking tax base and growing inequality. This undermines not only the economy, but also politics and society. Learn more We are already seeing evidence of a Corset Economy unfolding around us. If it continues, our futures will look materially different than they do today. We need to understand the corseting and act now to reverse its squeeze. Learn more

Want to explore more?

Join us for our Futures Immersion Workshop online workshop where we go into more detail and explore how the laces and futures interact, and how they can be influenced. Perfect for those who want to know more about how change happens and how to influence for a better future.