A speech by Lubomír Mlčoch at the CES award ceremony for his contribution to Czech economic thinking
Economics as a struggle to maintain personal integrity
(A speech by Lubomír Mlčoch at the CES award ceremony for his contribution to Czech economic thinking. “Beautiful hall”, Prague University of Economics, 17 May 2021)*
Dear members of the Czech Economic Society, I would like to thank the president of our society for this award. I am surprised and delighted; after all, I have been in retirement for several years, and for most of my active career, my economic thinking travelled outside of mainstream economics. I also focused mainly on Czech students and readers. Even now, I prefer my mother tongue because we are at home. However, regarding the content of what I would like to say to you, I am troubled by doubts: after all, the world seems to be “somewhere else” already. But when the body representing your community has decided and has given me the space to reach you, something is expected of me, and obviously, something has to be heard. Since the 1990s, I have been a member of the CES and its presidency, and since the days in which I was entrusted with the co-reports of a keynote speaker, a lot of water has passed under the bridge. When a man approaches the average life expectancy by a “discount of time”, he is forced to think about his lifetime profession. Maintaining personal integrity in the times in which I was settled was a struggle, and it was accompanied by three conversions in my faith about life. The first conversion, which was the spiritual conversion, was decisive, and it allowed two subsequent conversions in the “scientific faith”.
It has been exactly 50 years since the then Prague University of Economics discontinued my employment contract. The reason was this was not insufficient publication activity – as it would probably be today – but on the contrary, it was the publication activity itself. Two essays published in November 1967 and August 1968 in the magazine Politická Ekonomie (Political Economics) were devoted to the methodology of the mathematical Hicks-Allen analysis using a neoclassical theory of a company, and the learning aid Company Theory for academical aspirants on IE CAS was – supposedly – the first textbook of western microeconomics in the former socialist bloc. Luděk Rychetník, a consultant on my thesis, opened a window into the world of western economics for me, mainly with Dorfman-Samuelson-Solow’s book Linear Programming and Economic Analysis. I would like to express my gratitude to my teacher, friend and co-worker Luděk, who emigrated in August 1968. We met again in 1989. My publications had contradictory effects because they led to an invitation to study at Cornell University in the USA and the termination of my employment here at home. I was sent into the practice. The departure was out of the question; the jig was up. Moreover, I already had a family and two little girls.
It was my family who suffered most from this situation. I was frustrated by the focus of my academic career, and only faith has brought me out of this crisis. Gradually, I accepted my situation in the establishment, and I even perceived it as a comparative advantage. After all, it was only possible to understand the peculiar logic of real socialism “from the inside”. I would not have had such an opportunity at Cornell or at the University of Economics!
* A definitive form of the ex-post text, according to the prepared syllabus.
The company for which I worked for 15 years, TESLA Holešovice, was helpful to me. They did not prevent me from undertaking five-year work into a corporate planning model in cooperation with the Research Institute of Engineering Technology and Economics (VUSTE), and they allowed me to undertake post-graduate study at the Department of Econometrics, which I had to leave. Then, the company even permitted me to conclude employment agreements with several departmental research institutes, always for a year, with a remuneration in the amount of my monthly salary at the company. I wrote the “moonlighting” after work, but the company’s decision processes were giving me research material throughout the year. This also gave me the meaning of my work, which sometimes got blurred. This is how descriptive studies of a company’s behaviour in the system of central planning have been created. The Hicks-Allen analysis was not usable here, so I built on a book about behavioural economics (Cyert-March) and another about administrative behaviour (H. Simon). The decisive inspiration was the translation of a book from an American psychologist, Eric Berne, who wrote a deep and funny book entitled Games People Play, which deals with love, marriage, parenting and children. I started to write about games used for planning between individual parts of the planning hierarchy. Later, Vráťa Izák noted that my descriptions remind him of American institutionalism. My second, scientific conversion was about to happen.
Studies written on the 4+1 machines were not even published by the departments that commissioned them. Nevertheless, they lived their own lives in xerox copies and transcripts. These studies influenced Czech economical thinking just by circulating; in the IE CAS, it was read among those who I once tested in company theory and in the headquarters of the national bank, thanks to the Klaus seminaries. A former schoolmate of mine surprised me at a chance meeting: he had got them at work at the Ministry of Finance, albeit only informally. When I recently quit the Scientific Council of Charles University, I was even more surprised by a vice-rector, microbiologist Mr Konvalinka: he knew the studies as a student at the Faculty of Natural Science. Thanks to them, I was eventually accepted into the Institute of Economics in May 1988. However, they did not become a subject of opposition proceedings at the first department until September 1989, and they were released as a research study after 1990. After the regime crashed, it felt like it was “post-festum”. On the thirtieth anniversary of the November, I was invited by young historians from the Institute of Contemporary History AS. They had only known the real socialism as schoolchildren, and to my pleasure, I found that they had built on my descriptive analyses to build a thought framework that reflected on the (non)functioning of the former economy. Historia magistra vitae is old wisdom that is newly confirmed by an institutional economy, which I was already a believer in back then.
The beginning of the 1990s was associated with the discovery of the role of institutions in the economy, and two Nobel Prizes were awarded in quick succession. Ronald Coase was awarded the prize for three studies that did not use any mathematical apparatus, the most important of which was more than half a century old. It was about an ingenious observation that competition takes place not only in the market but also between the market and a company, which is the essence of the company itself (today’s outsourcing is a descendant of this invention). Interest in Coase’s arguments may as well have meant that I would continue teaching “company theory”, just extended by this moment. At the beginning of privatization, however, its creators also recorded the so-called Coase Theorem in our country, which deals with the transfer of ownership rights to capital goods. It is a claim that the original division of property rights is not particularly important since free exchange of property rights ensures that, after a final number of steps, the rights will be used by those who find the most effective way. The theorem does not speak about justice and morality, and it laid the foundation for the politic slogan “We do not seek the best owners, but the first ones”. However, even upon receiving the Nobel Prize, Coase stressed that the critical prerequisite of the theorem is zero transaction costs. These are related to justice and morality, for deficits within these questions cause legal disputes over property rights. And in our country, where the judicial system works exceptionally slowly, transaction costs can grow above all limits. A small investment-privatization fund that I helped found has been in liquidation for over 14 years. Two court cases, in which the fund acts as an injured party, are still going on.
Douglass North was originally a historian of economic history, and from studying it, he derived the evolution of institutions. His theory of institutional change became “up to date” in the period of ongoing transformation. This led the University of Economics, our host, to award this Nobel Prize winner an honorary doctorate. The ceremony took place in the Bethlehem Chapel, and Michal Mejstřík, full of enthusiasm, obtained an autograph for this book. North came up with a theory that in our civilization circle, as well as others, technical progress ran slowly for whole centuries, and when it did not, it was mainly in the field of arms production and ways to wage wars. This observation persisted not only for the industrial revolution but also for our age of the most advanced military technologies. North also expands the concept of an entrepreneur, who is not only a businessman but can also be a politician, statesman, or even a general. From here, it is only one step to the idea of war as a business plan. And this idea, then, in connection with the previous one concerning the role of comparative advantages in the field of the most advanced military technologies, leads to the risk of war.
However, North has contributed to the economic dictionary with the term “path dependency”: in every time and every country, institutions depend on the historical path that they have taken, even after the circumstances in which they operated have passed. Knowledge of how real socialism functions is particularly important, even today. The concepts he came up with (including the nonparametric environment, the information predominance of the company over the centre and the inverted control pyramid) are alive, especially there, where a state acts as a customer who ensures public estates are on the market for transport infrastructure, IT contracts, the arms industry and the pharma industry. (A Hungarian economist János Kornai derived other keywords about the universal reach of real socialism: imbalance theory, soft budget constraints and the state as a “universal insurance company”.)
However, when preparing the first textbook of institutional economics, I drew the most from the results of research conducted by Professor Oliver Williamson. He followed Coase’s idea of the company’s essence and developed the theory of vertical integration. He deepened efforts for connections between economics and law on a moral level: he works with a new economic human being who makes decisions using rationality and moral dilemmas simultaneously. Opportunism represents strong self-interest that does not hesitate to use deception, subterfuge, fraud or even murder. This is, however, only a question of the “origin of coordinates” – zero opportunism means moral conduct. Where this cannot be assumed, the economical man has to try to find guarantees. Williamson writes about trust, and he distinguishes the entrepreneur who is trying to “sell out” from the trust perceived as a betrayal, which plays a significant role in the family’s economics, and not only there. In 1995, I was invited to the Annual Conference of the World Bank on developing economics, which also included countries undergoing economic transformation. There, I listened to the professor speak live. He did not refuse to comment on China’s development and concluded that, as an American institutional economist, he cannot explain the rapid development of Chinese economics. There, property rights are vaguely defined and poorly operationalized, and the state is characterised by its interferences in business. Furthermore, the system is obviously corrupt. Despite doubts about economic statistics, it is clear that it is developing exceptionally fast. This expression of great scientific humility strengthened my conviction that, together with his theoretical performance, he was destined to receive the Nobel Prize. It took 14 years, but as a lecturer in institutional economics, I was able to tell my students that Professor Williamson, from whom my textbook draws, was awarded the Nobel Prize.
Williamson’s humility was also proof that, besides institutions, culture is also important, and not only political culture. Without knowledge of culture, there is a risk of ignorance and arrogance. R. Coase lived to an incredible age of 102, and even at the age of 100, he wrote a book – together with a Chinese colleague - which, by its title, indicates that he had no doubts about whether China was already a capitalist country. Until then, experiences of the compatibility of authoritarian rule and capitalism only related to right-wing dictatorships. In that time, China was perceived as a rival and competitor, even a partner, but not an enemy. Still, the chief economist, Joseph Stiglitz, argued in a similar manner when he evaluated ten years of transformation and compared Russian and Chinese ways. North stated that humanity chose the lesser evil from two evils: they chose the state because anarchy is a far worse kind of evil. And Jelcin’s Russia was not far from anarchy. Surprisingly, Stiglitz’s analysis, which included the Czech Republic in its evaluation of these two superpowers, together with his engagement at CERGE, contributed to the fact that Charles University has given him an honourable doctorate, which was awarded four months before he shared the Nobel Prize.
As a factor of economic development, culture led me to teach a master’s course in Comparative Economic Systems. A young American, James Agresano, worked in Prague at CERGE, and his “comparative economics” was a historic evolution of economic systems from Ancient Rome to contemporary history. There, he focused on culturally different models of post-war and contemporary capitalism (Germany, Scandinavia, Japan and the USA, as well as China and the post-transformation mutation). During my visit to Cornell, Jiří George Staller took me to his course on Comparative Economic Systems. The students were mainly foreigners because the locals were apparently convinced that there is only one model: theirs. A larger group from Cornell’s Business School, which was led by Jiří to Opletal Street, consisted mainly of Asian students who had no idea about Nobelists in the field of institutional economics. I had the feeling that our students had a broader overview. A host professor from Shanghai came to my course twice. At first, students asked her about Mao’s “cultural revolution”. She responded calmly and with humility, informing them that, in Chinese culture, there is a great respect towards rulers and that they have a right to be wrong, too. Several years later, the professor was more confident, proudly talking about her country as the “world’s factory”. Today, as we criticize non-compliance with work, social, hygiene and human rights standards in various Chinese sectors, we should also consider the “phase delay” with which China set out on the path of industrialization (a delay of, let us say, a hundred years). Institutional evolutionism takes the inequality of economic development in various parts of the world as a matter of fact, and it teaches us to compare the comparable and to acknowledge our own past. Furthermore, companies of “our capital” should also be counted, which means we require higher standards from them first.
Luděk Rychetník invited me to Reading University, where he worked after he emigrated, and he also had a contract at Oxford. So, he allowed me to meet two personalities from St. Anthony College. Wlodzimier Brus was a legend to me: the Czech translation of his book about the decentralized model of socialism was the first swallow of the 1960s, and my essay derived from this model’s thesis about alternatives in a company’s behaviour (B. Ward, E. Domar). In Poland, Brus was accused of revisionism, but when the anti-Semitism campaign appeared, he emigrated. He lectured on comparative systems with a focus on Russia and China, and I was curious about his opinion of the aforementioned argument about Joseph Stiglitz. Brus was of the same opinion; he preferred a gradual change with the belief that the economic system will request the democratization of politics over the simultaneous institutional change of economic and political systems. However, are we not today the witnesses of autocracies threatening democracies in Europe and USA (including under the pressure of the “market”)?
Professor Michael Kaiser gave me his project from the Charlemagne Institute to study. It was a perfectly prepared curriculum for a course intended for future elites of the European Union (EU), business, politics, public administration, culture and, hopefully, the church. It went into the depths of European history – as the name itself suggests – with the objective of cognition, reconciliation and remedy of mutual injuries for centuries and millenniums. “Money was not found” for the project because this was at a time when the EU was already spending huge sums with particularly controversial intentions. This was rather about a deficit of goodwill and a willingness to engage in spiritual readings of the past. It was the smallness of the spirit, to be precise. A quarter of a century after Michael Kaiser thought up the project and prepared it, there was nothing left for us but to rue. Luděk Rychetník lived to see Brexit, and that was his biggest disappointment after almost half a century of living in his new homeland.
Luděk gave me a gift: I could choose one book from the Reading University library. I picked an anthology about ethics and economics because I had already started to teach a subject called something similar. Intuitively, I perceived that it would be an important step in my transformation. Peter Koslowski, a descendant of exiles from Poznaň, had an exclusive “private lectureship” on the intersections between history, philosophy and economy in Hannover. His Ethics of Capitalism, which was published shortly after the fall of communism, had a surprising perspective: it concerned humility but not triumphalism. Only now, the “hour of truth” has come for capitalism, and ethics will play the main role. A few years later, a similar idea was presented by George Söros in an article for the Atlantic Review. He argued that capitalism is only a threat to itself now. And nobody can say Söros does not know what he is talking about – even regarding possible threats. After all, this was a warning about a speculative investor. At the time, when Francis Fukuyama hallucinated about “the end of history”, which would result from the crushing victory of liberal ideas, these two men warned that freedom itself is not enough: we cannot do without morals.
Before the birth of the Institute of Economics at FSS, two international conferences were held here (in 1993 and 1994). Both conferences were sponsored by the Novae Spes foundation from Rome, and the conference organizers were Stefano Zamagni from Bologna and our own Milan Sojka. The first conference, called “What markets can and cannot do” warned that the market does not do everything well – and it is not permitted to do everything. The market has – or should have – its ethical limits. The bioethics one, about which Stefano mainly talked, has fallen since then, one by one. Today, eggs and sperm are for sale, and you can even rent a womb. Shortly afterwards, Zamagni was the editor of an anthology that was published in England under the name The Economics of Altruism. The second Novae Spes conference confirmed the importance of institutions, which deficits had already begun to show.
Among the shipments of books that we received as gifts, as a contribution to building a new teaching of economics, was a proven textbook in the United States entitled Business Ethics. Around that time, we had already founded the Society for Ethics in Business with Marie Bohatá, Lidmila Němcová and several other people. Marie, who I taught in her last semester at the University of Economics, founded the Centre of Excellence at the CERGE. On his first visit to the United States, Václav Havel asked Americans for help not only with financial capital but also educational capital. President Bush Snr entrusted this task to Georgetown University. Milan (Mike) Miskovsky worked there, at the Business Ethics Centre, who has family roots in Kouřim. Michal Mejstřík got our best students involved in this collaboration, and during my term as dean, annual conferences were held under the heading of the “Leadership Forum”. Thanks to these ties, it was possible to organize the tenth conference of the EBEN (European Business Ethics Network) in Prague, which was the first city in the transforming countries. Václav Havel contributed to the conference with his written support, and one issue of the magazine published by the EBEN was dedicated to the conference. In my post, I critically evaluated the misunderstanding of liberalism, which has forged a path for its abuse. Milan Miskovsky became a very close friend of mine, and he remained one until his death. Even today, I draw on several signed books by renowned American authors that he gave me. For instance, David Hollenbach wrote about the common good in terms of Christian ethics.
The economy as a science does not know the term “common good”. In his book On Ethics and Economics, Amartya Sen, an Indian and the first Nobelist from Asia, points out the fact that some time in the mid-1930s, under unclear circumstances, the opinion about the non-comparability of the individual functions of benefits prevailed. This became an axiom, thanks to which the only tool to evaluate states of economic variables remained the Pareto optimality in the form of Koopman’s K-effectivity. Situations in which everyone wins (and no one loses) surely exist in economics, and they are highly desirable, as in managerial win-win strategies, but they far from reflect economic reality. Pareto-optimal states may occur after any division of pensions and wealth, even the most uneven. The axiom has used a wide mathematization of economics (as in my admired book on linear programming and economic analysis), but at the same time, it cut the economy off from the value system of Judeo-Christian civilization, which relies on victims. The common good cannot do without victims and without willingness from those who give out because of their abundance, not only absolutely, but also relatively, compared to those who give out because of their shortage. The common evil of Covid (as “the good with the opposite sign”) has been convincing us daily about the need for victims.
At the practical level of economic policies, the key question concerns endless discussions about (in)voluntary solidarity, equal and progressive income taxation, tax evasions and tax paradises. In all these questions, I have gradually held opinions close to the Christian social doctrine. Surprisingly, I found out that I have undertaken my second scientific conversion (following the first spiritual one). Petr Fiala, still an academic at Masaryk University, initiated the CDK anthology Catholic Social Doctrine and Contemporary Science. When I finished the chapter that I was asked for, I realized that I had not fulfilled the assignment. Instead of the social doctrine of the church being evaluated from the economic point of view, I had written the exact opposite. I apologized to the publishers but confirmed that I would not do anything about it, and I understood if they refused my post. Science has taken me at my mercy, and the text was published.
This second conversion was more significant in nature, and it requires explanation. It was a change of perspective, although the common foundation was represented by individual sciences concerning man and society, which subsequently includes economics. I read a samizdat translation of the first social encyclical (Laborem Exercens) after my return to IE CAS, and other colleagues also showed interest in it. They rejected the doctrine of human labour as a “need”. Economy is a positive science, and it is not only normative, but “it should not educate a man” as the young candidate for habilitation later put it – when it came to trust. I have concluded that economics needs a paradigm shift, and in my subsequent works, I tried to indicate in which direction this change should take place. Thus, “the Economics of Trust and the Common Good” and “the Economics of Family in Changes of Time, Institutions and Values” went unnoticed by my fellow colleagues; they were more interested in Christian ethics. Besides, I had already been elected and appointed to the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences (PASS) in Rome. There, I found a new stimulus to think about “value-free” economics and a “need” for the Catholic social doctrine. Twice Joseph Stiglitz has pointed out the last scientific results of experimental and behavioural economics at several American universities. It was an observation that the study of economics is sought by more selfish applicants, compared to those studying other disciplines. Moreover, after graduating from economics, they are demonstrably more selfish than when they started studying. So, the economy is far from “value free” because it is already an ideology that indoctrinates its current paradigm. So, ultimately, it educates, but only as a by-product! And if it cannot be “value free” from its nature, then it needs to educate about different values than it did previously.
In mainstream economics, trust is still an outer parameter, just like a forecast of better weather. A new school of “trust economics” is starting to emerge. The monography of the “trust economy and a common good” attracted those interested in Christian ethics rather than economists. Even one politic, who became absorbed in reading my book, was a fresh encyclic of Benedict XVI, “caritas in veritate”, and he raised a question concerning whether the pope did not cheat off me. It was not the case. Stefano Zamagni, who I visited in Bologna 20 years after his visit to Prague, generously offered me everything he had recently written, including unpublished texts, all of which were free to use. For a text comparison, Mr Senator had supported the hypothesis that Stefano Zamagni had participated in the pope’s encyclic, but this is not commonly talked about. At our Institute of Economics, Stefano was unforgettable, and Milan Sojka taught the history of economic theories according to Stefano’s English textbook (with Screpanti). A few years later, I had the honour of preparing a “laudation” and promoting the award of an honorary doctorate to Stefan Zamagni. Thus, the oldest university “north of the Alps and east of the Rhine” paid tribute to the oldest European university ever.
I got into family economics thanks to an invitation to a conference entitled “Vanishing Young?”, which was organized by PASS with a wish to elaborate on a regional report for a group of former socialistic countries. Demographic implosion (1.21 children per woman) turned out to be deeper than in the original ten EU countries, although even there it was, and still is, below the level of simple reproduction. In April 2006, my mother would live to be 100 years old, and so I started my report with gratitude: my parents had accepted me during the war as their seventh child (and then came my younger sister). During a break, Hans Tietmayer approached me to tell me that he had 11 children. What a cultural change during just one generation! Hana Suchocká had a co-report that engaged with my report, and it confirmed that, in Catholic Poland, indicators of marriage and divorce are still closer to the tradition, but the birth rate is as bad as ours. Shortly afterwards, our demographers counted that, compared to the 1980s, we already had a million children missing, and today, of course, juveniles, too. The vanishing young, without question marks. In a discussion, Kenneth Arrow suggested supplementing family economics with new forms of contractual obligations and guarantees; many years before, he had written that trust is an invisible asset that decides a country’s prosperity. And the most important “producer” of trust among the younger generation is a family. It was there that trust economics and family economics mentally interconnected. If the social economic system is hostile towards family, it is threatening to its own future.
Cose’s invention about competition between the market and a company can be applied to a family as an elementary human organization, and Williamson’s theory of vertical integration subsequently explains why the family is losing in its competition with the market. First of all, “a child as a product” (in family economics, from Gary Becker) is losing because “it does not pay off”. This threat was already expressed in America in the 1940s by our native, famous Joseph Schumpeter. In the book Capitalism, Socialism, Democracy, he predicted the decay of the middle-class family as a consequence of still increasingly diverse offers of goods, services, experiences and pleasures that are introduced by the market, which a family cannot resist. This is not only in comparison with financial “child costs” but also with the care and sacrifice needed from both parents. The calculation is surely incomplete, maybe even faulty from the start, but it does not detract from its effectiveness; indeed, it is particularly strong. Where is the joy about a new being, amazement at their everyday developments, or the first smile as the reward for parents?
During his first visit to Prague, I got his “working paper” from Stefana Zamagni from his own institute. It is a simple model of motivation for two close people: a married couple. Both people have their own preferences and functions, and Stefano introduces a parameter by which each one of them respects – or notices – the preferences of the other. Except for extreme cases of self-interest, where there is no regard for each other or there is an absolute self-sacrifice for the other, it is possible to consider the New Testament’s ethical maxim: love your neighbour as you love yourself! This authentic statement in economics is crystal clear and utterly absolute at the same time, but what does such a science of family look like?
I put energy into my book about family economics at the age of institutes and values, which was being prepared while my beloved and brave wife endured a severe illness, in order to transform Czech economic thinking. Thanks to his Polish origin, Professor Paul (Pawel) Dembinisky from Geneva understood the main meaning of the book, even in Czech, and he initiated the translation into English. Mine would not be good enough to make it possible, but Professor Dana Hamplová, who focused on family sociology, kindly agreed to perform the translation. Her high-quality translation was polished by Luděk Rychetník, who collaborated with an English editor. This was a last amazing service to our friendship. Luděk believed that the book could become a bestseller. He was disappointed: the editor did not even market it because he predicted that it would be an economic flop. It was not written for clearly defined readers – for economists, it is a theological “need”, and for theologians, it is reserved for economics and too professional for the general public. (Moreover: the editor could not ignore the fact that English family politics do not look good in it, and what is worse, this is even compared to the French ones!) However, the English version attracted an Italian, Francesco Belleti, who enthusiastically translated it for the Sao Paolo publishing company in Milan. He added a subtitle to the book without my knowledge: “how can family economics heal the heart of economics”! I am fully satisfied with his understanding of the book – I wish Francesco were right!
My last book (together with Jiří Kameníček), prior to retirement, is an occasional publication for the twentieth anniversary of the student’s Josef Vavroušek Price at FSS at Charles University “Economics, ecology, eudaimonia”. Josef Vavroušek, our last federal minister of the environment, had been my friend since the 1980s (and commissioned one of my descriptive studies on planning games). After retiring as a minister, he became a colleague of mine. After he tragically died with his daughter Petra in Western Tatras-Roháče, I initiated the prize announcement of “Global Problems of Development of Human Civilization and Worlds of Values”. The prize was announced by a former spectabilis dean, Milan Petrusek, if I remember correctly. He admitted Josef to the faculty and appointed him to the position of vice dean. This was deeply symbolic for development. With regard his thoughts about sustainable development and voluntary modesty as the only acceptable way, Josef Vavroušek was ahead of his time; from our generation, he had the farthest and most penetrating insight into the future. His nickname was Viki, but also “Vavroušek of Assisi”, and this time it felt like Pope Francis, in his encyclic Laudato si’ (about caring for our common home), was really “cribbing from Vavroušek”. At the conference on sustainable humanity and nature at the PASS facilities, which preceded the Laudato si’ encyclic from Pope Francis, Partha Dasgupta, a naturalized Indian from Cambridge, gave a speech about nature’s unsustainable wear and tear. Economics perceived it as a fountain of valuable sources; however, this was only sources from which it can be taken. “Nature as capital” counts with amortization, and as soon as we deduct the “depreciation” of natural capital from the growth output of the gross domestic product, its performance is weaker; in many countries, such as Sub-Saharan Africa, it is even negative. Instead of growth prospects, the collapse of economics is expected. Nature “cannot afford” to boost the wealth of seven billion people above all limits. In 20 years, 267 bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral programmes, not only from Charles University but also from other Bohemian and Moravian universities, have entered the student competition. Karolinum is preparing the second updated edition 25 years after the death of Josef Vavroušek, which is already directed by Professor Martin Potůček, the current chairman of the Award Committee. Above all, the younger generation perceives the problem of achieving harmony between the laws of economics and the laws of nature as their own, together with the fact that their life happiness, eudaimonia, and beatitude presupposes making order of one’s own life values. For economy as a science, it is a call for a reformation of the current paradigm, as well as conditio sine qua non of the human future itself.