Capitalism needs to rediscover its moral spirit, says Alpha Chairman

|PIC1|In a public lecture series as the Gresham Professor of Commerce, the chairman of Alpha International and Church warden of Holy Trinity Brompton Ken Costa warned that "we are doomed to repeat our mistakes if we do not restore sound ethics to economic behaviour".

"In recent years finance has forgotten or ignored that it is a servant and not a master. Letting the market decide was the morality of our time. Financiers created credit out of nothing but eschewed the responsibility of the creator," he said in his talk at Gresham College, London, on Monday.

Costa said capitalism was the best way of improving people’s living standards but noted that the task at hand was also to "rediscover the moral spirit of capitalism so that it best serves all people".

"We have spiritual desires (longing for happiness) and a moral spirit (an instinct that doing well comes from doing right), as well as financial imperatives," he said.

"That moral spirit is distilled in the simple principle: 'Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.' He noted that this golden rule had been broken.

"The wording, is biblical but the precept is echoed across religions, cultures and time."

Costa, who is also chairman of investment bank Lazard International, said that when markets were seen as servants of people, then "we can then begin to act in the moral spirit of capitalism, informing markets with our moral and spiritual dimensions", and "reattach capitalism to its moral moorings".

In an interview with financial news service Bloomberg, two weeks ago, Costa referred to the focus on short term gains as "one-night financial stands".

"I have observed in over 30 years in the City the driving desire of many to work hard, to be rewarded well, and get out as quickly as possible. That impatience is no recipe for a healthy economy or society.

Referring to financial services jobs, he added: "These are long-term commitments."