What will again be bought in this land? — 4 Comments

  1. Fascinating! As is Susan Lee – not at all the image most of us have of the dismal profession. A cousin used to work in the Baltic Exchange, after which I guess the Baltic Dry Index is named. It was a family joke that he dealt in guano futures, but perhaps he was really shipping it around the world as dry goods …

    I don’t know about chartering a bulk carrier, but a prophetic gesture from the General Synod, or the bishops would be nice.

  2. Joc,

    I had heard of the Baltic Exchange, but had never given any thought as to what it was about. I have never ever heard economists here talk about the Index, which seems fairly important.

    I stood in a secondary school assembly this morning trying to not laugh at the thought of your poor cousin being mocked about dealing in guano futures.

    Maybe a bulk carrier is out, but what would be good as a prophetic gesture?

  3. Ian

    A good question! And perhaps institutions and those leading them are not the right people to act as prophets. As I see it, a prophet is an individual who is inspired to talk truth to power, and can do so with conviction only because he or she has no other corporate agenda.

    There are two symptoms of our disease, both ultimately caused by disorders in our relationships with our fellow humans, creation and God. The first symptom is the crash of global finance capitalism – short term, but now certain to cause misery and hardship for many hundreds of millions. The second is the crisis of climate change – long term, and facing us all with a choice of either changing to a low carbon/low consumption economy right now or condemning our children and grandchildren to uncertain but likely very nasty consequences. I suspect that the two are linked, in the sense that confidence in the future has been tipped over the edge by the growing realisation that future material growth is impossible. And I suspect that the only way out of the crash is to invest and put people to work in a new sustainable economy – the green agenda.

    It would be a terrific prophetic gesture if General Synod could unite to declare that in future that the RCB will only invest in companies that promote sustainability, and that can show an appropriate year-on-year reduction in carbon footprint per unit of output.

    How’s that for size?

    Incidentally, did you see Rowan Williams recent lecture on Ethics, Economics and Global Justice?

  4. I haven’t been a member of General Synod since the early-1990s (I was voted off after one term), so I’m not sure where the thinking is on things. I do remember it being reported that there had been a call for an ethical investment policy to which the response had been that the church could not be bound by an ‘ethical straitjacket’. There is not much left to invest according to stories I hear.

    I think I would take Rowan Williams more seriously if he announced his belief in the disestablishment of the Church of England, the withdrawal of bishops from the Lords, and the use of palaces for community purposes!

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