Let's Make Money

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Governance Ethics

Ethical Analysis based on

“Let’s Make Money”

by

Erwin Wagenhofer

The documentary “Let’s Make Money” directed by Erwin Wagenhofer was instantaneously published before the global financial crisis 2008. Besides presenting the distances that money covers, it identifies its fundamental deployment as well as the minority of mighty people who govern it. In general, the documentary aims at demonstrating the multiple aspects and effects of the contemporary financial system, which practically affect the entire global population. Thereby, the director criticizes the intrinsically egoistic and thoroughly unethical behaviour of multiple financial and political operators who generate revenues at the expense of millions of unintentionally involved citizens around the globe. Workers from developing countries continuously proliferate other’s money while remaining poor in person and being completely at the mercy of the capitalistic, Western society. The essay shall present arguments against and in favour of modern instruments of financing from an ethical perspective in order to examine the reasons and consequences of the excessive striving for additional welfare.

In times of globalization, the interconnectedness of economic and political activities between developed and developing countries has been constantly increasing accompanied by a permanent generation of money through financial transactions. Simultaneously, the gap between the rich and the poor continuously amplified, which has created a globally dispersed divergent attitude towards financial transactions.

The documentary clarifies that financial markets generally consist of the non-physical trade of capital among persons, institutions and their respective relations, whereas the latter constitutes the fundament of associated drawbacks. In the contemporary financial system, shareholder value – i.e. the maximization of return on investment – seems to account for the ultimate benchmark. Since financers operate in a network of multiple individuals, which thus forms an entire collective that is aiming at simultaneous objectives without adequate regulation, financial operators are insulated from external intervention, individuality, and accountability to a large extent, which might account for their unethical conduct in the execution of transactions. Hence, the indefeasibility in terms of financial activities detains financial operators from associating their activities with consciousness and morale regarding the effects on other human beings. Nevertheless, it is coward to say that one has no choice with regard to investments, since every kind of decision implicates a choice and thus an intrinsic judgement about right or wrong (Crane & Matten, 2010) although an analysis of the latter fact goes beyond the scope of the paper. Even though respective judgements differ among individuals, decision-makers recognize that they are opposed to an ethical dilemma, which they intentionally ignore because they are actually aware of the fact that ulterior action could distort their predominant financial objective. Consequently, the entire normative quintessence such as social values and norms on which our global system is arranged on suffers among intentional ignorance, regardless of the different understandings of what primarily constitutes morality or ethics. At least the term and the associated intention of responsibility should designate a concept that is familiar to everyone.

In fact, the industrialized economies designed modern instruments of financing because they were highly aware of the associated growth and profit potential, which are imperative to exploitation. Thus, the system primordially undermines ethical values and no one from those who are able to exert the required political and economic force scrutinizes its functionality, convenience, or accuracy as long as returns remain satisfactory. In the documentary, the main...
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