By Steven B. Young

cover of the road to moral capitalism
Editions:Paperback: $ 15.99
ISBN: 978-1941768891
Pages: 274

When capitalism seems incapable of providing either adequate reductions in unemployment and protection for the global environment, it needs the adjustments recommended by Stephen B. Young.

When capitalism is once again taken to task for favoring financial intermediation and for helping the few of the many gain material security, a new way for Capitalism is needed. The Road to Moral Capitalism takes on financial analysis and exposes its shortcomings.

The Road to Moral Capitalism shows how humanity's innate moral sense can lead to a renaissance of sustainability in our global economy.

Stephen B. Young is the author of Moral Capitalism; Reconciling Private Interest with the Public Good (2003). He is the Global Executive Director of the Caux Round Table, a global network of business executives, professionals and experts advocating ethical principles as the best way to manage free enterprise.

About Stephen B. Young

Stephen B. YoungStephen B. Young is the Global Executive Director of the Caux Round Table, an international network of experienced business leaders who advocate a principled approach to global capitalism. Young was born in 1945. He was educated at the International School Bangkok, Harvard College and Harvard Law School. He came to Minnesota in 1981 to be the dean of the Hamline University School of Law. Previously, he had been an Assistant Dean at Harvard Law School. He has also taught at the University of Minnesota Law School, Vietnamese history for the College of Liberal Arts, University of Minnesota and Public Office as a Public Trust for Minnesota State University - Mankato. He has published articles on Chinese jurisprudence, the culture and politics of Vietnam and Thailand, legal education, law firm management, Native American law, the history of negligence, and the law of war.

More extensive book description

"The book exposes several core fallacies holding up modern financial free-market orthodoxy and which contributed to the recurrent failures of banking and finance to sustain healthy economic growth for all. The book argues that:

  1. It is wrong to oppose public goods to private goods, with public goods consigned to governments for distribution and private goods left to allegedly only self-serving free markets. Some notional public goods – education, social services, transportation, etc. – can be effectively sourced and delivered by markets. And, to the contrary, some private goods affect the public interest and so draw upon themselves aspects of public goods. There is a continuum of goods and services ranging from pure public goods to pure private goods, with intermediate goods of a mixed character. Quasi-public goods and quasi-private goods can be provided by private enterprise through open market transactions. These are shared value goods and services. Financial intermediation is such a mixed public and private good.
  2. Corporate social responsibility performs a mediation function between private goods and services provided by the firm and public goods demanded by society.
  3. A limited theory of valuation – which ignores intangible assets and liabilities – caused the asset bubble and resulting collapse of leverage in the fall of 2008. A better theory of valuation is proposed to add public good dimensions to the calculation of private asset values.
  4. The existence of an agency problem in finance and corporate governance is challenged. Current agency theory presumes that markets are incapable of providing public goods. The assumed agency problem supports companies ignoring stakeholders, externalities and fiduciary duties of responsibility.
  5. Anxiety and money exacerbate the selfishness which brings the agency problem to the fore, but they can be offset by enhancing the strength of the moral sense, which is part of each person’s social-psychology. The severity of the agency problem is rejected by value-based cultures – Catholic social teachings, Buddhism, Chinese ethics, Taoism, Aristotle and Qur’an. In addition, I/Thou relationships and friendships sustain values to overcome the agency problem.
  6. Financial institutions need to be incentivized to provide public goods in addition to private goods.
  7. 'Wall Street' may be more about rent-extraction than investing in real growth. In much of finance, contract rights – shares, bonds, loan participations, derivatives, etc. – are only “rented” for a short time in order to flip them for a higher price. Why, then, should traders be given all the respect due to owners who invest for the long-term?
  8. The US Dodd-Frank reforms did not challenge the inherent dysfunction in financial trading, but only sought to distance public coffers from responsibility for making good on private losses.
  9. It is self-restraint – the moral sense as provided to each of us by Natural Law – which can align private goods with public good and so lead us to a moral capitalism."