As I was on the road a couple nights ago, NPR’s All Things Considered was broadcasting a piece educating Joe the Plumbers like me concerning a major, yet overlooked catalyst contributing to the present economic crisis. That villain is called the ‘Credit Default Swap.’ Very briefly, what was once a sober mode of obtaining a form of investment insurance degenerated into what professionals concede was nothing less than gambling. For the full text and/or to listen to the piece, go to How Credit Default Swaps Spread the Financial Rot.
Interestingly, I just came across an insightful quote that bears directly, I think, on this whole financial debacle from an biblical perspective:
We believe that in this speculating world, amid all these risks and ventures which perhaps must be entered into to make business prosperous and to keep pace with the age, it is only a very strong religious spirit, a practical exercise of religion, that can make anyone judge accurately between legitimate and reckless commercial speculation. . . . From the danger we are all in of taking our moral standard from the tone of the common morality of society, we are apt to forget the higher standard of the law of Christ. [But] we are every now and then recalled to a sense of the difference of these two standards by some tremendous commercial failure; in which we see that speculation has been carried so far into the region of uncertainty and risk, that trust and confidence has been abused, and the ruin of one man has invovled in it that of hundreds, who trusted in him. Now we only see this by reason of the failure of speculation, not from the speculation itself: had that proved successful instead of disastrous, many would not have seen the immorality at all (Anonymous review in The Ecclesiastic and Theologian, vol. XXII, 1860: 261-64).