Thursday, October 2, 2008

Follow-up to my sermon on Greed

Greed, to put it mildly, is no longer good.

Today, Gordon Gekko could not get away with the paean to greed that he delivered in the 1987 movie “Wall Street.” Not after Alan Greenspan denounced “infectious greed” before Congress in 2002. Not when every third book about finance and corporate power has the word “greed” in the title. Not when the presidential nominee of the traditionally pro-business party is blaming Wall Street’s greed for the current financial crisis.

Denouncing greed, however, appears easier than defining it.

Read it here. Modern Market Thinking Has Devalued a Deadly Sin by PETER STEINFELS

Of course, it’s all Gordon Gekko’s fault! “Greed and irresponsibility,” blasted Barack Obama. “Greed and excess and corruption,” charged John McCain. President Luiz InĂ¡cio Lula da Silva could tell from as far away as Brazil that the “boundless greed of a few” blew up the American financial system. Why didn’t I think of that?

With the eureka moment behind us, I would suggest that this insight offers a way to try to restore the abused financial markets to health. If greed is to blame, the question is whether we can line up a reasonable array of alternative incentives — and disincentives — to do away with greed for good.

This will be no easy task. From populist opprobrium to elitist disdain — standard social behavioral devices have proved unable to dent humanity’s greedy nature.

Read it here. A Cure for Greed By EDUARDO PORTER

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