I just completed the book Confidence Games by Mark C. Taylor (2004), which is a non-fiction analysis of economic systems in the last century and how art philosophy, the de-coupling of the gold standard from the US dollar, and other events have affected our monetary psyche. Taylor is quite a prolific author and speaker and guest lectures at Columbia frequently.
Among the many disturbing but accurate observations he makes through the book, I am most struck by what he mentions in his “Notes” on page 334, referring to the work of Robert Nelson (2001, 266):
In his recent study, Robert Nelson examines the relationship between post World War II economic theory and religious belief. “Economists think of themselves as scientists,” he notes, but “they are more like theologians.” According to Nelson, economics has in effect become a secular religion that is ignorant of its theological roots.
In order to create a successful economic system, Nelson argues, it is necessary to establish “a set of values in society that offer vigorous encouragement to self-interest in the market and yet maintain powerful normative inhibitions on the expression of self-interest in many other less socially acceptable areas.” Since economists are not equipped to address these value questions, theologians must play a major role in formulating economic policies. Indeed, he goes so far as to suggest that “it might not be economists but theologians who are the most important members of society in determining economic performance.”
It pays to look around and see how this has already happened. Look at Billy Graham and The 700 Club.
I include this passage because the shock and disruption these market forces have, combined with the psychological warfare, is meant to make us all part with our money, but if you can dispell the fear, your participation can be as limited or as active as you wish! If you decide to play the markets and become involved, do it with a sense of humor and realize this is just one dimension of impact. Remember that in these games, someone always loses.
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