High Leverage Finance Capitalism, The Economic Crisis, Structurally Related Ethics Issues, and Potential Reforms

Business Ethics Quarterly 20 (2):299-330 (2010)
In this updated and revised version of his 2008 Society for Business Ethics presidential address, Richard Nielsen documents the characteristics and extent of the 2007–2009 economic crisis and analyzes how the ethics issues of the economic crisis are structurally related to a relatively new form of capitalism, high-leverage finance capitalism. Four types of high-leverage finance capitalism are considered: hedge funds; private equity-leveraged buyouts; high-leverage, subprime mortgage banking; and high-leverage banking.The structurally related problems with the four types of high-leverage finance capitalism converged in something of a perfect economic storm. Explanations for the crisis are offered in the context of the type of the high-leverage finance capitalism system that permitted andfacilitated the economic crisis. Ethics issues and potential reforms are considered that may be able to mitigate the destructive effects of what Schumpeter referred to as the “creative destructive” effects of evolutionary forms of capitalism while realizing the Aristotelianeconomic ideal of creating wealth in such a way as to make us better people and the world a better place
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