On the one hand, it brings new and persuasive arguments to bear against the erroneous thesis that the recent financial crisis is merely due to human mistakes and to a number of 'government failures'.
On the other hand, the book invites us to remember that economics is inextricably a part of ethics, since humans are not isolated islands of exchange; rather, they live, work and thrive in social settings. It is this consideration that brings Maria Pereira to take as her intellectual beryllo the ethics of virtue.
Pereira's jargon-free book will capture the attention of anyone seriously interested in the future of our market systems."
Stefano Zamagni, Professor of Economics, University of Bologna & Johns Hopkins University, SAIS Europe
"Maria Pereira has written an elegant and deeply thought-provoking book. It eschews the typical analysis: those in finance are often defensive (especially latterly) and very seldom think about the wider impact on society of their activities, while society in general is still too angry and shocked by the events of the last 10 years to go much beyond blanket condemnation of the money men. But Pereira invites us to see both the power to do good that markets and finance undoubtedly have, and where they have fallen short of Adam Smith’s high ideals.
The book zeroes in on one aspect of traditional and historical economic thought in particular; the need for the power of markets and finance to be accompanied by a strong sense of social justice. Money is a tool, and from the Greek philosophers onwards its power to advance the welfare of society has been widely recognised. But its destructive power has also been fully understood, and the ancients always cautioned that the tool must be used wisely, fairly and above all justly. It is when money moves from being a tool under man’s command to a god that commands men’s minds that its dangerous side emerges, and Pereira’s assertion is that whenever this happens, whenever man seeks money not for what it can do to further social justice but merely for what it is in itself, then society suffers.
This book will not be comfortable reading for many in finance today. But because of that, and because of finance’s urgent need to rebuild its relationship with society, it is all the more necessary that it be widely read."
John Nugée, retired central banker (Bank of England and Hong Kong Monetary Authority)
I knew we would be in for something remarkable from my first conversation with Maria all those years ago: she was the first finance professional I had known capable of trading economic and financial analysis with the best of them while at the same time speaking admiringly of Pitirim Sorokin’s magisterial thesis The Ways and Power of Love.
Her book explores how money has bred ‘finance’ which in turn has taken its place in a narrow view of economy and economics. She then returns to the philosophical heart of the matter in considering how we might restore virtue, the common good and love as the ‘infinite resource’ at the centre of our economics and our financial systems – a new humanism. The book is a treasure trove of deep reflection from someone who has lived at the centre of the system she seeks to renew. It is already stirring a new conversation in her diverse communities of influence."
Her work is a call to awaken to the greed of the system as it has become, and what the love of money for money's sake has done to us. We must re-imagine a more just world in which virtue and fairness are held as ideals for which to strive. This re-imagining requires awareness of our current plight, reflection, and contemplation/meditation.
Pereira speaks calmly, clearly, courageously, in a world that ridicules and makes mockery of human values. It is a deep and provocative work that beams a path to a world where money, love, and virtue may co-exist."
Dr Astrid Johnson
"Having approached reading this book with a certain degree of trepidation, wondering how these three apparently unrelated concepts can be woven together and reconciled, I must admit that the further I read the more I became captivated and delighted. A number of factors led to my delight: these include the depth and breadth of the research on a variety of topics, such as finance, economics, morals and ethics;the provocative and yet perfectly logical assertion that the mathematical abstraction of modern finance and economics has lost sight of reality; the lucid and easy-to-read writing style and finally and most importantly, the proposition that these three concepts--Money, Love and Virtue--can and should be reconciled in a harmonious and humanistic society. The relevance of the book for our era is clear: with its historical and theoretical background, it illuminates many the issues that dominate the political debate today, such as the growing gap between the rich and the poor (for which the euphemism of "income distribution" is conveniently and generally used).The hallmark of a good book is that it pushes, prods and provokes one's thinking. Money, Love and Virtue does this and does subtly and indirectly, without being aggressive or didactic about it. It provides the background,it outlines the author's views as a set of personal "reflections" but it then leaves the rest up to the reader who cannot but help ask some obvious questions, such as: why has finance and economics become so mathematical as to become abstract? Why has finance become unhinged from the everyday world and from business? Why have morals and ethics taken a back seat? What could be done to accelerate the process of moving towards a more humanistic society?This is not a book to pick up for some light reading! It requires and deserves to be read and digested slowly so as to allow time for reflection. And for those who are willing to be challenged and to dedicate the time and attention, the investment will be rewarding!"
Thomas Hardy (Partner, G&H Ventures LLC)
Bill Sharpe, formerly research director, Hewlett Packard Laboratories
Pereira’s perspective as a banker puts her in a unique position to look critically at what has happened to our way of thinking about finance. Unsatisfied by the response of governments and institutions to the recent financial crisis, she has undertaken an exploration into the underlying factors that allowed it to occur. She invites us to reflect with her about how our thinking has changed over the last millennium and why it needs to change again. With a bibliography of no less than 243 original sources, Pereira has written a thought-provoking study of how three simple words, Money, Love and Virtue have become isolated from each other when, in fact, they are inter-dependent.
As a starting point, Pereira goes back to the ancient Greeks and the origin of the word “economics,” pointing out that its meaning originally included ethical elements, not just mathematical models. Equally important to the ancients was the concept of filial love or friendship, which they considered the basis for human happiness. She examines how different philosophies and religious ideals have influenced our perceptions and what happened to make us separate economics from ethics (money from love and virtue).
Among the many themes that are addressed, Pereira questions whether philanthropists are best serving society by giving their money instead of their talent for making it. If a skilled investor works to find opportunity in socially responsible enterprises perhaps society is better served in the long term.
Perhaps the most important message Pereira makes is that social responsibility is spurred on by individual responsibility. For social contracts and ethical guidelines to work well, individuals must behave responsibly. Thus said, Pereira gives us a place to start in addition to much to think about.
A must read for young professionals as they enter the work force. A refreshingly balanced discussion for anyone interested in seeing social justice return to prominence in the business model… or, as MJ Pereira would say, to see Money reunited with Love and Virtue. “
Carol Switzer, Franklin University, Lugano, Switzerland