the last couple of weeks, 100s of billions of Dollars, Pounds and
Euros of tax payers money have been poured down the drain to bail
out a non-functioning, unregulated, unaccountable financial
system. The money that we were told was not there to pay for
improvements in health, education, housing, transportation, pension,
child care,..to name but a few. Moreover, no body has been
charged yet: one law for them and another one for the tax payers! The
profits were privatised when the going was good and the
costs have been socialised, now that the going got tough,
heaven on earth for them and hell for the tax payers! Where are the
market forces now, you might ask? Where are all those neo-liberal economists
now, singing the praises of the market, deregulation, liberalisation,
privatisation, free tade, share/property-owning democracy,..?
Where are they now, telling us how to maximise our profits and
income, how to minimise our costs and how to exploit the
natural resources, all for the sake of maximum economic
growth, and then tell us how to externalise the costs and
consequences to the tax payer or to the people of
for example, when they get flooded. Where have they gone now?
Why are they so quiet now, not sharing their wisdom on the
wonders of the market and competition and scarcity with us all!
wonder if all these billions that tax-payers have given will
work in rescuing the economy where mammon has taken over? My answer
is: it will not, as long as the so-called experts/economists do
not admit that without humanity, ethics and justice, economics and
business are house of cards built on shifting sands.
millions of words have been written on this meltdown, on what went
wrong, but not much on why it went wrong. The overwhelming
majority agree on the role of one vital element: dishonesty fuelled
by greed. We forget at our own peril that honesty and greed are
essentially spiritual and moral issues.
the last few weeks the greed of Wall Street and the City (
financial district) has been under the spotlight. The Archbishop of
recently- and in my view correctly- called some of the traders
bank robbers. "We find ourselves in a market system which
seems to have taken its rules of trade from
in Wonderland", the Archbishop remarked. The Archbishop of
Canterbury has also criticized "trading of the debts of
others without accountability" and compared unfettered belief
in the market with fundamentalism. This last word
"fundamentalism" used by the Archbishop means a lot to me.
It is the fundamentalism of economics, its teaching and MBA
programmes that is, in my view, the shifting sand upon which we have
built this house of cards, called economic globalisation, which has
now come home to roost. The Chicago Boys school of
economic thought has proven to be an Emporer with no clothes! As
long as this curse persists, there will be no possibility of
reaching the Promised Land: where we can have justice, peace,
happiness and contentment.
The Curse of
As it has been
noted, the so-called "famous school of economics at the
led by the late Milton Friedman spread its market fundamentalism
worldwide. Greed, selfishness, individualism and short-termism
were conflated with freedom and democracy and elevated to the status
of moral philosophy. The fatal flaws of this ideology has fueled
the reckless risk-taking, greed and arrogance that led to Wall
Street’s downfall, and the loss of confidence in financial/banking
sectors the world over".
Boys and their clones inspired the Reagan and Thatcher era and
the Washington Consensus of deregulation, privatisation, driving
today’s form of economic globalisation.
recall Milton Friedman’s infamous single bottom line: the only
purpose of private enterprise and corporations is to make as much
money as possible for shareholders. In the last few decades
academics created “free market” curricula, and business schools
reaped grants from corporations and from conservative and gullible
liberal foundations. Media joined in promoting the “animal
spirits” of individual entrepreneurs, the glorification of
business leaders and the “wealth” of Wall Street raiders, hedge
fund titans and private equity kings. Money was seen as the
only form of wealth".
I believe this
must be highlighted, as without this understanding we cannot provide
any solution or an alternative. It is immoral and an affront to
humanity to spend the tax payers money on this bail-out,
without admitting what has caused the calamity to begin with. After
Enron and WorldCom we were told never again, how wrong they were and
how naive we were. For the last few years I have been arguing
globalisation. As Albert Einstein has reminded us,“The world
cannot get out of its current state of crisis with the same thinking
that got it there in the first place”.
Therefore, we must change from the ideas and values of
the Chicago Boys, currently the dominant or the only philosophy
used in the teaching of economics and MBA programmes the world
over, to a sacred and spiritual teaching of economics, rooted in
ethics, morality, spirituality and the common good.
focus of economics should be on the benefit and the bounty that the
economy produces, on how to let this bounty increase, and how to
share the benefits justly among the people for the common good,
removing the evils that hinder this process. Moreover, economic
investigation should be accompanied by research into subjects such
as anthropology, philosophy, politics and most importantly,
theology, to give insight into our own mystery, as no economic
theory or no economist can say who we are, where have we come from
or where we are going to. Humankind must be respected as
the centre of creation and not relegated by more short term economic
rationality’ in the shape of neo-liberal globalisation is socially
and politically suicidal. Justice and democracy are sacrificed on
the altar of a mythical market as forces outside society rather than
creations of it. However, free markets do not exist in a vacuum.
They require a set of impartiality in government, honesty, justice,
and public spiritedness in business. The best safeguard against
fraud, theft, and injustice in markets are the cardinal virtues of
justice, temperance, fortitude, and prudence, and the theological
virtues of faith, hope, and charity.
you have a moment have a look at the lecture I recently gave at
Moreover, if you wish to learn more about our project, or wish
to contribute to the ongoing debate on Globalisation for the Common
Good, please consider joining us at our 8th Annual International
Conference, which will be held at Loyola University in Chicago:( http://www.gcgchicago2009.info/)
As ever yours,
Kamran Mofid PhD (ECON)
Founder, Globalisation for the Common Good Initiative
Co-editor, Journal of Globalisation for the Common Good
Globalisation for the Common Good, Chicago 2009