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Review of THE GENIUS OF MONEY by John Bloom

The Genius of Money, John Bloom, Steiner Books 2009

Among the spate of new books explaining money, including Tom Greco’s The End of Money and Jordan Macleod’s New Currency, John Bloom’s The Genius of Money explores money’s symbolic role in the human psyche as a projection of our inner states of consciousness.  Published by SteinerBooks, an offshoot of the Rudolf Steiner Foundation, this book is elegantly produced with relevant illustrations of works of art over history, marred only by its inexcusable lack of an index.

            It is not surprising that John Bloom, a lawyer with the Rudolf Steiner Foundation and RSF Finance, who has spent much of his professional career with the outward manifestations of money and monetary institutions, foundations, venture investing, grant-making and how these uses of money shape our communities, turns inward in this book.  Bloom’s deeply philosophical and spiritual enquiry into the role of money is extended by many inspiring interviews, notably with Lynne Twist, author of The Soul of Money, Betsy Taylor, founder of the Center for the New American Dream and Nobelist Wangari Maathai on her Green Movement in Africa (whom I had the good fortune to interview in Nairobi, Kenya in 1981).

            Bloom opens up key topics such as the role of advertising and mass media in enslaving our desires for material goods, while economic texts divert our attention from such fundamental flaws in markets and their “externalizing” of social and environmental costs from company balance sheets to others and future generations.  These are concerns of my company, Ethical Markets Media whose mission is to reform markets and grow the green economy globally.  Bloom might also appreciate the EthicMark® Award which I founded to honor Advertising which Uplifts the Human Spirit and Society, now administered by the World Business Academy.

            As Bloom acknowledges that all these issues around money are crucial in understanding the crises engendered by the greed and short-termism of Wall Street, he offers no prescriptions.  While Ethical Markets Media has joined in the Americans for Financial Reform coalition of over 200 organizations, including the millions who belong to AARP, the AFL-CIO and many others, Bloom does not comment on our need to re-instate the Glass-Steagall separation of retail banking from insurance, brokerage and investment banks – a key to reform.  Nor does Bloom refer to the need to downsize the global financial casino which metastasized to prey on the real economies of many countries.  Perhaps we can hope that John Bloom’s brilliant analysis can turn to these aspects of money-creation and the need to reform the Federal Reserve System.  I hope that Bloom also supports a financial transactions tax to slow up the pathologies of algorithmic “flash” trading and downsize financial sectors again to serve the real economy.

Hazel Henderson, Ethical Markets Media

Disclosure: no positions