Musings About Speculators

I’m currently in Denver, attending the Annual Meeting of the Law and Society Association, where I presented a paper this morning on legal strategies for affecting corporate behavior, premised on the idea that corporations should be viewed as social and moral actors, and not just economic ones. One of the other speakers on the panel on which I presented, gave a paper addressing speculators – what we think about them and about how speculation in the market ought to be addressed. She suggested several possible reasons for why we have a reaction against speculators including that they lack long-term interest, they are not interested in the substance of the investment, but only care about their financial return, and they are only playing a game of arbitrage, with no substantive interest.

The speaker’s points strike me as having broader relevence to relations between humans and between humans and God. The most obvious is that as Christians we have a reaction against using others as objects for one’s own gain. But I think we also have a reaction against a lack of deep commitment to something real (and a commitment to something more meaningful than money), a commitment that keeps us in the game even when things get rough. We frown on an attitude that says I’ll hang on to God (or some other person) today while I’m getting something positive out of it, but dropping God (or the other person) tomorrow when I don’t seem to be making a profit from it.

Finally, I think that something about the reaction to speculators has something to do with their non-creating. The speaker cited the Gordon Gekko line from the film, Wall Street: I create nothing. I own.” As Christians part of how we define our human mission is to participate with God in creation, to be co-creators with God. And so an attitude that prizes the absence of creativity is something abhorrent to us.

Such were my musings about how our thougths about speculators spill over into broader reactions to human behavior.