The Caux Round Table announces the release of The Mountain House Statement setting forth a common position among the Jewish, Christian, and Islamic traditions of social thought on sound ethical values to be used in management of the global economy. The Mountain House Statement offers hope for the world.
This Mountain House Statement is significant because, for the first time, it brings together the resources of the Abrahamic religions in one common and constructive approach at a time when conflict and divisiveness among and within these faiths are so sadly prevalent.
Second, this Mountain House Statement is significant because it derives from the Abrahamic traditions very practical lessons for the conduct of finance and business.
These lessons are:
- Acceptance of limitations – that whatsoever we seek to do must be approached with humility.
- Acting always as a fiduciary – we are, each one of us, stewards of creation, duty bound to be constructive and not selfishly exploitative.
- Since power and wealth divert us from responsible conduct, great power and great wealth dramatically increase the risks of business and financial failure from cupidity, negligence, and arrogance.
- Religious conscience offsets the risks attendant upon power and wealth so religious faith should be present in economic and financial undertakings to ensure their long-term success.
Exactly two years ago, the global economy was brought to crisis by a collapse of credit markets upon the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers investment banking house in New York City. Public funds and guarantees in the rough amount of 14 trillion US dollars contributed primarily by national governments were needed to prevent a global depression brought about by failures in private credit markets.
The depression was thus avoided, but the debt hangs on to restrain the resumption of economic growth in many economies. Reforms in laws and regulatory practices have been suggested, and some have been adopted, to prevent a recurrence of such a collapse of confidence in credit markets.
From the perspective of the Caux Round Table, however, reforms in laws and regulatory policies will not be enough. A principal cause of the crisis lay in poor judgment and lack of elementary prudence, such failings in turn driven by a prior collapse of sound personal values.
If morality and ethics played a role in causing the crisis, then morality and ethics need to play a role in preventing future credit crises.
But whose morality and whose ethics may be advocated to change behaviors in financial markets? We live in a world of many cultures and many religions.
The Caux Round Table is convinced that common to many religions are certain core principles of humility and responsibility with respect to risk that can be surely relied upon to fashion personal codes of conduct in financial intermediation. The Mountain House Statement reflects this truth and is an important step towards finding future expressions of a common moral truth for the human family.
The Mountain House Statement was collaboratively written by distinguished scholars from the Jewish, Christian, and Islamic faith traditions. They were convened at Mountain House, in Caux, Switzerland, by the Caux Round Table, His Eminence Theodore Cardinal McCarrick, former Archbishop of Washington, DC, Ronald Thiemann, Bussey Professor of Theology and former Dean at the Harvard Divinity School, and Ibrahim Zein, Professor of Islamic Studies and Comparative Religion and Dean of the International Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilization at the International Islamic University, Malaysia.
To view the press release, please click here. To read the Statement, please click here.