Economics Needs Ethics

“Markets need morals, and morals are not made by markets. They are made by schools, the media, custom, tradition, religious leaders, moral role models and the influence of people. But when religion loses its voice and the media worship success, when right and wrong become relativised and all talk of morality is condemned as ‘judgemental’, when people lose all sense of honour and shame and there is nothing they will not do if they can get away with it, no regulation will save us… Markets were made to serve us; we were not made to serve markets. Economics needs ethics. Markets do not survive by market forces alone. They depend on respect for the people affected by our decisions. Lose that and we will lose not just money and jobs but something more significant still: freedom, trust and decency, the things that have a value, not a price.”

Morality, Chapter 6, p. 100