Money

A Paper God

Commentators have frequently compared the credit crisis of today with the economic crisis of 1929, just before the Great Depression. Yet almost no one speaks about the deeper causes of the economic crisis: the eagerness of banks to give, year after year, huge amounts of credit to speculators and all kinds of speculative funds, with an enormous worldwide growth of financial markets and new financial products as an unavoidable consequence.

 


In recent years there has been a staggering increase in the amount of money being invested by investors worldwide—and most of it has been put in highly speculative markets in the financial, rather than the “real,” economy. What does this distinction mean? To oversimplify, the “real economy” is the part of the economy that involves making, selling, and buying goods and services, from groceries to shoes to doctors’ visits to garbage collection. The financial sector, in contrast, involves the buying and selling of money as a product in its own right.

 

 


On its simplest level, this involves the trade in loans or bonds (someone borrows money and pays back more money in the future), the buying and selling of foreign currencies, and the buying and selling of shares in the stock market.

 

 

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Sojourners Magazine June 2009
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Ungenerous Giving

“Stingy Givers” (a review by J. Dana Trent of Passing the Plate: Why American Christians Don’t Give Away More Money, March 2009) is an important article, especially now when giving seems to be the first thing to fall by the wayside. I work for Covenant House Pennsylvania, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing shelter for 18- to 21-year-olds. We rely heavily on donations, but in recent months there has been more than a 10 percent decline in giving.

Everyone is feeling the effects of our declining economy, including the homeless. Beds become scarce and funding for food becomes even scarcer. These are dangerous times for people to cut corners when it comes to giving. Clergy need to address the importance of tithing, regardless of how politically incorrect it may seem. Sometimes you need to turn over some new tables in the church.

If Christians continue to go unchallenged when it comes to generous giving, we will be unable to feed those who are hungry, give a drink to those who are thirsty, and clothe those who are naked.

Evan Cantiello, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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Sojourners Magazine May 2009
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