Buddhism and the Economic Meltdown

After dumping Dish network due to a move, I’ve “converted” to a digital converter box.  Public TV is a favorite and PBS NEWSHOUR with Jim Lehrer continues to provide excellent commentary and news segments.  One of particular note is The Business Desk with Paul Solman.

Recently, Mr. Solman interviewed MIT economist Andrew Lo regarding “…how human frailty and bad decision-making factored into the financial crisis.”  Lo adds an interesting twist to it.  Instead of pointing out the obvious greed and market manipulation, he digs deeper into spirituality. How does Buddhism play into the economic meltdown?

Lo discusses that working for money = avoiding suffering.  We work for money to not feel hunger and cold. Buddhist’s have long believed that to live is to suffer. Our will makes us engage in activities that aren’t always happy but to avoid pain.

Andrew Lo has studied the system for years including the factors of the current “Great Recession.”  He uses the space shuttle Columbia disaster as an analogy for the financial crisis.  For example, some NASA engineers knew of the O-ring problems.  How does an institution fail when they have the information?  Similarly when a financial firm crashes certain parties don’t want to know why.  Who? The parties that have made money like hedge fund owners, regulators, and brokers.   Regulation is the key to implementing information to the “correct” parties.

As a result, human frailty and technologies can be more powerful when we can manage them.  Lo uses the example that neuroscientists have discovered that financial rewards have the same effect as cocaine.  This makes one feel complacent.  Sounds like the art market to me.

Today, Lo is working on a higher level of consciousness and meta-model for human behavior.  He has been mediating, thinking and formulating different ways to avoid another financial meltdown.


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