Monday, November 24, 2008

Faiths in Creation (4)

A Faith Perspective on the Economy
Makbul Rahim

Today marks the anniversary of Black Tuesday, a crucial date on the timeline of the 1929 Wall Street Crash, and in similar times of financial uncertainty our attitudes towards the economy are under the spotlight. Makbul Rahim describes how religious ethics can inform economic pursuits, asking particularly how a religious perspective might view the economy as a tool for tackling climate change.

In the modern economy and the business world, faith and religious ethics generally are often regarded as being of only marginal relevance. For those considering business transactions and activities, the primary factors and drivers are profit maximisation, market efficiency, maximization of shareholder value and the capital asset pricing model. Economic activities are seen as essential bread-and-butter matters – sources of one’s livelihood – with faith and religious ethics as leisure or part time activities for society and its members. In other words faith is not seen as an integral part of economics or business life. The emergence of investor protection and transparency and good corporate governance in the business world has not come about voluntarily out of faith considerations. Rather it has had to be imposed upon it by law and other means and is more related to sustainability of the confidence which drives and maintains the economy. Religious ethics, on the other hand, emphasise factors such as human flourishing, the good of society and human happiness, the nature of the human person, the demands of community and solidarity. These are not considered as critical drivers or important determinants by market players in the economy.

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