Monday, 13 July 2009

Markets and Morals

This year's Reith Lectures were given by Michael Sandler of Havard (rumoured to be the person on whom Montgomery Burns of the Simpsons was modelled!). I liked the first lecture which was on the morality of markets and can be listened to here (or click for transcript). Should we have markets in immigrants, body parts? Should we pay children who do well in tests? Market triumphalism has given way to a new market scepticism. Almost everybody agrees that we need to improve regulation, but this moment is about more than devising new regulations. It’s also a time, or so it seems to me, to rethink the role of markets in achieving the public good. There’s now a widespread sense that markets have become detached from fundamental values, that we need to reconnect markets and values. But how? Well it depends on what you think has gone wrong. Some say the problem is greed, which led to irresponsible risk taking. If this is right, the challenge is to rein in greed, to shore up values of responsibility and trust, integrity and fair dealing; to appeal, in short, to personal virtues as a remedy to market values run amuck...ll in test scores? What about carbon trading?

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