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Financialization: critical assessment based on Catholic social teaching

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Purpose ‐ The purpose of this paper is to address financialization in the light of Catholic social teaching (CST) and investigate the issues surrounding corporate governance and the impact that the priority of shareholder value poses for achieving ethical outcomes in routine economic interactions. Design/methodology/approach ‐ The approach ventures beyond an accounting of the enormous costs of the recent global collapse of financial markets in search of an ethical evaluation as to how this all came about. The ethical evaluation proceeds along two tracks: individual action and system of rules. Findings ‐ Six suggestions as to how to reconcile what is known from CST and what is observed in everyday economic affairs have been offered. Research limitations/implications ‐ The paper is limited to reconciling financialization and issues of corporate governance with CST. Practical implications ‐ The practical desirability and the ethical goodness of a financialized system are commented on and the paper contributes to a better understanding of the origins of the financial market collapse. Originality/value ‐ The global collapse of financial markets linked to the introduction of new financial products in which the return is emphasized and the risk glossed over provides a unique opportunity to contribute to the dialogue on what needs to be done to address the broader problem of financialization.
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Keywords: Corporate governance; Corporate social responsibility; Ethics; Financial markets; Religion; Social value

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2010

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