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If one's sense of responsibility is distorted

· How the role of finance and banking has changed ·

With his resignation publicly announced and explained in an article in the New York Times, an executive director – who for years worked in high positions at in investment bank, a symbol of American financial power – explicitly accused the institution of “moral decline” in its professional values and the choices that followed.

Ignoring any legitimate doubts one may have concerning the propagandistic motives for this decision, as the bank in question is considered to be close to the President of the United States, we can attempt to explain what distorted the role of a banker. This is a role which has brought about and furthered that “moral decline”, the effects of which are essentially demonstrated by the resigning executive director's exasperated search for short-term solutions, if we take into consideration the way those solutions came to be. But what has been distorted?

First of all, what has been distorted is the cultural context in which the human being chooses his reference points, in which he develops his aspirations, in which he seeks for the meaning of his life. The choice of “shared values”, in the absence of a strong sense of personal responsibility, influences his patterns of behaviour. As Benedict XVI in his introduction to Caritas in Veritate , by adopting a nihilistic culture, man changes what he sees as success, results, satisfaction. He reduces everything to an exclusively materialistic vision.

In order to make the GDP artificially grow, for increasing through sophisticated tools the finance required to support the debt – in turn guaranteed by artificial values sold to unsuspecting clients – a certain kind of cultural system is necessary, as well as an institutional consensus. It took the availability of suitable tools and especially a lack of the sense of responsibility on the part of the operators who have given up on growth, but not on their stock options or bonuses. People who are poorly formed, with the wrong objectives and in a weak working environment can only create instability.

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