The Vatican has been a bell-weather of human rights concerns and research for centuries. His Holiness Pope Francis’ personal commitment to put actions in front of the Holy See’s words are having a profound effect in Vatican City and globally.
The Pontifical Council for Peace and Justice, led by His Eminence Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson from Ghana, is responsible for developing policy and nudging its implementation on issues that include business ethics, and the conduct of business leaders and their bankers. The Vocation of a Business Leader captures recent policy research and thought.
Initially in October 2012, and then as part of the Pontifical Council’s Colloquium on the theme Banking on the Common Good, Finance for the Common Good on May 13, 2013,Urban Logic has brought forward our design work on high-transparency, impacts aware banking and related research to inform the Vatican’s (and our own) interfaith dialogue on creating banks and training bankers to handle money that is authentic in achieving its intent and impact, ethically. From little acorns, giant chestnut trees grow!
For more on the May event, Cardinal Turkson’s interview and the Pontifical Council’s press release are here, and Vatican Radio’s coverage here.
Practicing What is Preached...As importantly, informal conversations with the new head of the IOR (Vatican Bank) on that Monday May 13th, were prelude to the Bank agreeing om May 22nd for the first time to release its financial monitor’s reports – Transparency momentum in action is good to see!
By September (2013), the Pope was speaking out regularly, decrying the idolatry of seeking money as an end goal or end game, and urging the globalized economy to return to the core functions of providing meaningful employment, and the honorable reality of a job creating meaningful lives.
In Colonial America, states issued their local currency so as to achieve independence from the banking and bankers of the Old World in Great Britain and Europe. Today, the Bank of North Dakota formed in 1919 is all that remains of the state-owned bank tradition.
In response to 2008’s Credit Crisis, U.S. taxpayers pumped $608 billion into the banking system (of which $367 billion has been repaid as of August 2013). An immense DC-Wall Street-Main Street public debate followed, along with passage of The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform And Consumer Protection Act (echoing reform measures passed after every previous domestic banking crisis), and the lobbyists on Capitol Hill carving the reforms into shards and loopholes without sufficient enforcement budget or the will to prosecute offenders at “too big to fail” banks.
Two options for public investment remain relatively unexplored:
- Reviving State-owned banks who, by reason of being government-owned, would be subject to higher public purpose accountability, conflict of interest and transparency rules
- Investing in a national program of banking services innovation and redesign, through smaller new banks and non-bank organizations
Urban Logic has surveyed global state-owned banking history, and posted it online at StateOwnedBanks.com (as a Wikimedia research site and to reduce spam, please create an account to access our work there). For an illustrated timeline of multiple banking crises, recessions and other developments in the U.S., and legislative responses to them, download this PDF, and because it is 600 years wide, zoom in 12 times (12x).
Over the past few years, Urban Logic has looked at how banks reflect society’s priorities, and cause multiple impacts in doing so.
In order to understand “banking,” numerous books, professional journals and a deluge of popular works after the 2008 Credit Crisis have come forward to demystify the “black box of banking”, so that it can be simply understood.
Two of our favorite books that explain banking as it is currently practiced today are:
Other good reads on banking and money tell tales of bankers and banker hubris, and those are fun literature too!
Why is it that shopping is what powers the Internet?
So many new products struggle to find an audience, create a following, define a market, be the next Google, Apple or Facebook.
Google’s Campus – the sprawling Googleplex in Mountain View California – is like a graduate engineering school, most employees wear tee shirts identifying their Google product line, their 20% Personal Project or just the fashionably disruptive startup of the week.
In February 2008, Urban Logic’s founder presented an early peek at the ways that products sold on the Internet could tell consumers a more meaningful story, and how people could be defined more by what they do than what they buy. Bruce Cahan’s Talk is on Google’s Tech Talk YouTube Channel.