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John Lounsbury, Managing Editor and Co-founder of Global Economic Intersection, provides comprehensive financial planning and investment advisory services to a small number of families on a fee only basis. He has a background which includes 34 years with a major international corporation, 25... More
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  • Financial Greed and Christianity  12 comments
    Nov 4, 2009 11:58 PM | about stocks: GS, BCS

    It seems that executives of major financial firms are making the rounds of London churches to proclaim the compatibility of their endeavors with Christian ethics.  I lead with the most outrageous example, involving Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS).

    I find this post (here) by Matt Taibbi at True/Slant hard to believe, but he says it is real.  He writes:

    The great banks of the world have gone on a p.r. counter offensive in Europe, and are sending spokescrooks in shiny suits into churches to persuade the masses that Christ would have approved of the latest round of obscene bonuses.

    Goldman Sachs international adviser Brian Griffiths explains it this way: that Christ’s famous injunction to love others as one would love oneself actually means that one should love oneself as one would love oneself. This seemingly baffling outburst by a Goldman executive in what appears to have been a prepared speech — someone actually wrote this, and thought about it, before saying it out loud — gets even weirder when one tries to figure out what could possibly have motivated this person, and by extension his employer Goldman Sachs, to make such statements in such a place as St. Paul’s Cathedral.

    Another captain of finance, John Varley, CEO of Barclays (NYSE:BCS), spoke Tuesday night at St. Martin-in-the- Fields London last night and told the packed pews of the church that “profit is not satanic.” (

    Simon Clark and Caroline Binham write further in the Bloomberg article that Lazard International (NYSE:LAZ) Chairman Ken Costa is another banker that has gone to a London church to defend the righteousness of taking as much as you can get.  Clark and Bingham give many quotes including the following, which I thought was most apropos and also quite obvious:  

    It seems like the bankers aren’t listening to society,” said Jacob Needleman, a professor of philosophy at San Francisco State University and author of “Money and the Meaning of Life.”  

    Since we are in London let's make a little trip to the Globe Theatre where we might hear the Shakespearean lines that these crusading bankers should heed:

    "Methinks thou doth protest too much."

    A little self examination is in order by the kings of finance.  When total compensation of a few thousand employees at one U.S. bank (Goldman Sachs) are between 1% and 2% of GDP, something is seriously amiss.

    Stocks: GS, BCS
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  • Michael Clark
    , contributor
    Comments (11988) | Send Message
    The meaning of Jesus throwing the money-changers out of the temple was that he was marking an end to the self-serving theology of the bankers and clergy united, the 'greed is good' and the 'Earthly success was a sign of approval from God' theology that had taken over religion at the time and he was re-initiating the view that greed was not good and that Earthly success was more likely the sign of a deal with the devil than with a deal with God -- in a very real sense he was revoking the covenant.


    I guess GS is fearing the return of Jesus also.
    5 Nov 2009, 01:25 AM Reply Like
  • Michael Clark
    , contributor
    Comments (11988) | Send Message
    Very interesting article, John.
    5 Nov 2009, 01:26 AM Reply Like
  • Tom Au, CFA
    , contributor
    Comments (6879) | Send Message
    Goldman Sachs is "Wealth Vs. Commonwealth." As hypothesized by Henry Demarest Lloyd over 100 years ago.
    5 Nov 2009, 09:02 AM Reply Like
  • Ergo
    , contributor
    Comments (185) | Send Message
    2 Timothy 3:1-5


    But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.
    5 Nov 2009, 09:53 AM Reply Like
  • derryl
    , contributor
    Comments (1043) | Send Message
    Did the Goldman guy at least drop a few $billion into the collection box at St Paul's?
    5 Nov 2009, 10:04 AM Reply Like
  • John Lounsbury
    , contributor
    Comments (4052) | Send Message
    Author’s reply » derryl - - -


    I gave a shortened quote from Prof. Needleman. He went on to say exactly what you suggest.


    On Nov 05 10:04 AM derryl wrote:


    > Did the Goldman guy at least drop a few $billion into the collection
    > box at St Paul's?
    5 Nov 2009, 10:23 AM Reply Like
  • Dialectical Materialist
    , contributor
    Comments (5080) | Send Message
    And of course if it is a PR offensive, then the cost of travelling to the churches of the world to justify your greed is tax deductible as a business expense. Clue #1: If you take a business expense write off to go to church, you are not there for the right reason. (And oh yeah, can I get a receipt for the collection plate offering...?)
    5 Nov 2009, 10:57 AM Reply Like
  • buyitcheap
    , contributor
    Comments (1902) | Send Message
    I have no idea what PR whiz came up with the notion that the very Jewish (Blankfein, Friedman, Steinberg shall I go on?) GS should jump behind the robes of the Big Guy, but I think it might be a sign of the apocalypse.


    Unless, ... Are they long Christianity? LOL.
    5 Nov 2009, 12:25 PM Reply Like
  • Edo Amin
    , contributor
    Comments (8) | Send Message
    Last time I looked, greed is #3 on the 7 deadly sins list.


    Hinduism views it as "tamas" - dark and rotten. So maybe they should not attempt the same spiel in ashrams.
    5 Nov 2009, 10:39 PM Reply Like
  • Michael Clark
    , contributor
    Comments (11988) | Send Message
    The Eastern religions are also corrupt. The monks in Vietnam are doing very well blessing new houses that are being built from the rally in global greed. It's funny to see them driving to the temple in BMW's.


    Astrologers are making very good money here.


    The corruption is global. So, I guess the cure is also going to be global.


    That's what deflation is. It's the cure. Of course those who will be 'cured' in the most painful way are screaming and scheming to make sure the Old World stays the same, a milk cow they can manipulate for their own self-assurance and gain. But the End Time (the End of Time) has come.


    On Nov 05 10:39 PM Edo Amin wrote:


    > Last time I looked, greed is #3 on the 7 deadly sins list.
    > Hinduism views it as "tamas" - dark and rotten. So maybe they should
    > not attempt the same spiel in ashrams.
    6 Nov 2009, 01:27 AM Reply Like
  • realitybiter
    , contributor
    Comments (227) | Send Message
    How about the freakin' Jubilee?


    I'm no theologian, but I believe the bible clearly states that every 7 of 7 years (49 -50?) the lenders should forgive the debt of the debtors. It says absolutely nothing about forgiving the debt of the bankers and making them whole on their stupid bets.. This is old testament stuff and pretty amazing that Ben Shalom Bernanke chose to ignore it.


    God will give us justice.
    6 Nov 2009, 10:01 PM Reply Like
  • bob adamson
    , contributor
    Comments (4560) | Send Message
    Good luck with that Goldman Sachs et al. Sounds like a tough sell to me; counterproductive actually.
    6 Nov 2009, 11:43 PM Reply Like
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