General Question

niki's avatar

Are stock market & financial institutions 'evil'?

Asked by niki (699 points ) April 15th, 2011

What do you all think, especially with the current evident global financial crisis, and people are losing faith in the often-revered capitalism system. Moreover, the jobless/unemployment rate is increasing everywhere, and many people are killing themselves now because they can no longer understand/grasp what “Life” really is anymore.

So my questions are as follow:
Did the stock market & financial institutions really ‘steal’ the money from the multitude of poors, only to feed to the few riches?
or, is this not necessarily true? (ie: it’s not necessarily ‘evil’?)
Perhaps it does provide some good values somehow?

Please explain.

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11 Answers

flutherother's avatar

Not in themselves but love of money is the root of all evil. People who run large companies and financial institutions are there to make money and they don’t examine very closely the effects of their actions on the world.

incendiary_dan's avatar

I think of it kind of like a machine with parts. The machine might have been designed for something outright evil, but does that mean the engine that runs it is evil? So the question is whether the stock market and finance houses are the machine, or a cog?

thorninmud's avatar

It’s not that the institutions are evil, no. But they can create conditions under which people feel less constrained by their moral judgment. They do this by legitimizing greed, even turning it into a virtue. Then they allow the participants to deal in the rarefied atmosphere of abstractions, shielded from the actual human consequences of their actions.

Whenever you take a primitive urge, one that we normally try to restrain for the benefit of society, and say “it’s OK, don’t hold back, just give that urge free reign. It’s the right thing to do”, it can become a very powerful and dangerous force, difficult to restrain. This is what happens, for example, when you take young men and give them powerful weapons and send them to war with full permission to unleash their anger on the enemy. Some can maintain a degree of control under these circumstances, but a few will lose all restraint and turn into monsters. Financial institutions and the market do the same thing with our primitive greed impulses.

And then, it’s all a game of numbers scrolling across banks of monitors, like some game, disconnected from the world of dirt, blood and sweat. One feels less answerable for one’s actions when dealing with abstractions. When you don’t have to face those who are impacted by your decisions, and the only real consequence you see from your actions is the size of your paycheck, then the moral compass can easily lose it’s bearings.

Rarebear's avatar

No. Not even a little bit.

crazyivan's avatar

Succinct and correct as ever @Rarebear. However, I would add that though financial institutions aren’t “evil”, their goals won’t always line up with the larger goals of society. For this reason, strict government regulation of financial institutions is a must.

It was the lack of regulation that caused the problem we’re in now, not the inherent “evil” of any institution.

YARNLADY's avatar

In my opinion, there is no such thing a “evil”. Some actions are more beneficial to the majority of people, and others aren’t. When you get several people together to lend you money for your new business, you are now selling stock in your future. Is that what you mean?

The current workings of the stock market have evolved way beyond what was intended, and several people have learned how to turn that into their own advantage, at the disadvantage of others. They are the problem.

Jaxk's avatar

I suppose, that is a judgement call. If I go to Vegas and bet my paycheck on roulette, lose and my family goes hungry. Who’s to blame. Surely my family had nothing to do with this. Is it the fault of the casino for providing that evil vehicle of my demise. And surely Blaise Pascal, must assume some of the blame.

We can always blame someone for the events we deem unsavory. It would seem an inanimate institution is stretching the point.

Rarebear's avatar

@crazyivan Got it in one. Exactly.

zenvelo's avatar

Please don’t blame the stock market. The stock market itself had nothing to do with the credit collapse or the bogus securitization of risky mortgages. The stock market really only deals with taring of shares of stock.

It is true that the big investment banks/brokerage houses were all involved in one way or another, and they are members of the New York Stock Exchange, but their fraudulent actions were not related to their stock trading.

I get a little prickly about blaming the Exchange, as I am in the stock trading end of the industry.

jerv's avatar

Like many other things, it is inherently neutral. However, in the hands of evil—(or stupid)—people, it can sometimes be hard to tell. that is especially true in a culture that already has issues with accountability and personal responsibility,

mattbrowne's avatar

Trade is the fuel of progress. Fair trade is the basis of trusting long-term trade relations with mutual benefits.

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