Can one be both an ethical person and an effective businessperson?
Stephen Green, an ordained priest and the chairman of HSBC, thinks so. In Good Value, Green confronts some of the most vexing questions of our age and argues that despite its recent lapses, the global financial industry is more necessary than ever. Also necessary, however, are good businesspeople who look to their principles and not just their profit margins.
In order to understand the turbulence of the present, Green begins by retracing the history of the global economy and its financial systems, from ancient government granaries in Alexandria to the Italian banks that flourished during the Renaissance. He finds that free markets are a persistent phenomenon throughout history. A highly efficient allocator of capital that has delivered huge advantages to humanity, the marketplace has also abandoned over a billion people to extreme poverty, encouraged overconsumption and debt, ravaged the environment, and allowed the greed and short-sightedness of the financial elite to squander the trust upon which the global economy is built.
How do we reconcile the demands of capitalism with both the common good and our own spiritual and psychological needs as individuals? To answer that question, and many others that it sparks, Green takes us on a lively and erudite journey through history, looking for lessons in the work of economists and philosophers, businessmen and poets, theologians and novelists, playwrights and political scientists. By synthesizing the wisdom of great thinkers ranging from Aristotle to Adam Smith, Goethe to Thomas Friedman, Green charts a path toward a "new capitalism" that would maximize profits and shareholder value while simultaneously helping the less fortunate and bringing new meaning to our lives. He bolsters his ideas with stories from his own career as well as anecdotes about microfinance, green technology, and a number of remarkable individuals who have changed the world by using the lessons they’ve learned in the global bazaar.
An essential business book by a man who is uniquely qualified to write it, Good Value is a timely and persuasive analysis of the most pressing financial and moral questions we face. Green ultimately presents us with the heartening possibility that through good ethics comes good business, and through good business comes a richer, more rewarding world for us all.