James Featherby is calling for Christian responses to the Credit Crunch
The structure of the banking and financial markets are complex, and the transactions within it equally so. This often calls for nuanced judgement calls to be made between a variety of issues and the balancing of one set of competing duties against another. It is difficult to discern the moral issues involved. It can be even more difficult to weigh the competing issues once they have been identified.
The whole gamut of human weakness has contributed to the credit crunch. This includes much that is morally culpable, but also much that is not. Simple lack of knowledge and foresight has been a major factor.
Filling the values gap is not the only answer on offer, and many will not see it as the solution. We will need to compete with the other remedies on offer. I would suggest that we need to do three things:
• First, rediscover God’s values in the areas of economics, business, personal finance and consumption.
• Second, rediscover our confidence in these values as being best for us, our neighbours and our children.
• Third, find the right ‘voice’ to communicate these values – a voice that offers life and not condemnation.
The credit crunch has delivered a profound shock to the foundations upon which the Western economic model was built. But will our financial institutions and governments simply weather the storm, make few minor regulatory adjustments and carry on as before? Can we take this perhaps once in a generation opportunity to consider the values that drive the system and reflect on what values should be driving the system?
James Featherby has produced the pithy twenty-page The White Swan Formula (PDF 2.9 MB)
Fırst, let us not rush past the moment in which we now stand. We will not learn lessons unless we engage fully with the consequences of our mistakes. A key part of that is a proper engagement with the pain caused by our shortcomings.
For too long, for example, the fınancial community has denied responsibility for the effects of the capital that it raises and allocates. So let us pause and recognise the personal and fınancial pain, close at hand and further afıeld, caused by this crisis.
Second, we must determine to understand and apply these values ourselves.
Unless we personally seek to serve, rather than be served, we will simply be hypocrites, and our arguments will remain hollow. Each of us needs to believe that these values work in practice for us individually, as well as for others, and then act accordingly. We need, quite literally, to put our money where our mouth is.
Third, we can join the debate and make our contribution. Everywhere the question is being asked ‘What sort of economy do we want?’ Let us engage in the discussion. We must not be satisfıed with conventional wisdom that says change cannot happen. It is better to blow the trumpet beforehand than reach for the whistle afterwards. Let us be for something, not just against something. One can never tell when the tipping point of opinion will be reached, and without the last straw the camel’s back remains intact.
The discussion is needed on multiple levels… Let us also look long and hard at solutions to the current crisis that simply try to return things to how they were, at least for those of us in the West, by borrowing more and saddling the next generation with the burden of paying the price that we decided not to bear ourselves.
Yup, but will talk about values do it? Or will it require processes of public judgment and public repentance which is, I think, what is meant by ‘engage fully with the consequences of our mistakes’ and ‘proper engagement with the pain caused by our shortcomings’?