“what the financial crisis tells us about the role of finance in the economy from an historical and moral perspective” by Franco Becchis

Is the increasing role of finance sustainable? This question that would have seemed naïf 6 years ago is now in the agenda of international organizations, regulators and among public opinion.

A recurrent critique to finance is that “swapping pieces of paper” is not only less useful, but also morally inferior than the actual production of goods and services, and that great concentrations of wealth represent a threat to democratic values. There are many examples about aspects of financial activity that may not be advantageous to the real economy: the growing power of financial moguls, information asymmetries and their illegal exploitation, the shadow financial sector. Some of the political and moral remarks strike the theme of conflict between the real economy and the paper profits derived from financial speculation, and include claims that the temptations of the latter draw resources away from the former, or that speculators misappropriate rewards that would otherwise accrue to hardworking businessmen, farmers, and wage earners.

The conference does not attempt a comprehensive survey but is intended to be a primer about the economic and philosophical foundations of the debate that looms on financial institutions and markets and on their misaligned system of incentives.

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