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Finance and the Good Society

Goodness and finance are not words one usually sees sitting alongside each other in the same sentence.

There was a sensible idea -- doux commerce -- at the time of the European Enlightenment that a common interest in commerce would tame the barbaric passions and civilize and soften societies. Alas, that’s not a viewpoint often heard since 2007.

Robert J. Shiller’s new book Finance and the Good Society came out last week. I do not have a copy (my personal ethic here is full disclosure each and every time). However, by keywording the text at the publisher’s webpage and reading the interest-provoking review by the US economics editor of the Financial Times, Robin Harding, you get an idea of the content; enough certainly to stimulate thinking on general issues of economic governance.

In particular I was intrigued by a paragraph in Harding’s review: