Saturday, September 25, 2010

The market needs moral for its own sustenance

In an interview with Guardian on 18 October 2003, Stephen Green the then chief executive of HSBC Holdings, said:
"Do I personally feel some kind of incompatibility between what I believe and being in financial services markets? I can only say no... There is a coherence between high standards of integrity in business life and success in business life. The converse is true. You cannot be comfortable about long-term success on the basis of sailing close to the wind and not caring about moral standards."
During 2008-2009 financial meltdown in USA, HSBC has all the legal rights to leave their creditors to bear the losses. However the company did not walk out. Green, who was then the chairman of the bank explained to the Mail on 4 April 2009 about the decision,
"This all points to something more profound about market ethics... Our word is our bond and the idea that you can play fast and loose with that is immoral. I genuinely believe one of the biggest issues is that we must change the culture... The markets, flawed as they are like every other human structure, can be used to contribute to human development. Being there also creates opportunities - to show an integrity that loves others as ourselves and treats them as ends rather than means."
Christian theology working in market economy. Beginning next year, Stephen Green will leave his current post as the chairman of HSBC to join the UK government to be their Trade Minister. The market needs moral for its own sustenance. With Green's appointment, we may see how this can be carried out further.

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