Economy & Finance

The goal of the OLBIOS Advisory Group is to help you ask the right questions, raise awareness and inform you on the ethical issues you are confronted with, using ethics not as a constraint machine but as a basis for a stronger, deeper, more conscious and creative approach to your field.

Is there such a thing as “the economy”, with regularities that can be investigated?

Discover to what extent does the economy depend on facts about nature, individual labour and enterprise, and state and social regulation

Are there existing laws that govern the complex set of interactions that produce and distribute consumer goods and the resources and tools to manufacture them, or are such laws still to be discovered?

Do economic agents make consumption choices exclusively so as to maximize their own happiness?

Understanding individual motivation
Considering the complexity and extreme diversity of contemporary economics

Is it possible to explain and predict economic outcomes?

Are mainstream economic models right when they stipulate that consumers are perfectly rational and have perfect information?

Defining the nature of rationality, self-interest, welfare, justice, equality, and economic freedom.

Can one maintain that mainstream economics is a ‘positive’ science of which the conclusions are independent of any moral commitments?

What is the welfare of citizens and how are their rights protected?

On distribution, equal treatment and opportunity.

Defining the nature of rationality, self-interest, welfare, justice, equality, and economic freedom.

Is there a way to address economics if one is not willing to simplify drastically and abstract from many complications : how much simplification, idealization, and abstraction are legitimate?

The particular view of welfare as satisfaction of preferences. Is it possible in policy discussions to treat non-welfarist ethical criteria as exogenous constraints to be left for someone else?

Analyzing the view that individuals are always perfect judges of their own good.

Does economic theory include only central causes, necessarily ignoring minor causes? And are therefore its claims necessarily inexact, its predictions imprecise?

Inconsistency in the conceptual framework of modern financial-economic theory and the widespread use of a principal-agent model of relationship in financial transactions.

Is ethics only an added value in business, an instrument for improving its functioning?

Organizational ethics and the set of values identifying an organization.

Are there any strategies to counteract organizational use of moral disengagement strategies?

Difficulty in applying the corporate device of “contractualisation” of the agency relationship.

Is it possible to increase the transparency of discourse and institute clear lines of accountability?

Analysis of normative elements in the market indicating the ideological, quasi-religious elements of economic reasoning: filling the ethical vacuum of contemporary market societies.

What is the exact place and power of ideas such as loyalty, trustworthiness, fidelity, stewardship, and concern that should underlie the principal-agent relationship?


Insider trading

Stakeholder interest versus stockholder interest

Campaign financing

Examples of violations of trust and loyalty in public/private dealings

Fraudulent financial dealings, influence-peddling, corruption

Unauthorized transactions / Insider trading

Misuse of customer funds for personal gain

Mis-pricing customer trades

Corruption and larceny in banking


Official regulatory agencies and the Securities and Exchange Commission. Establishing rules and regulations for the proper conduct of professionals.

Develop ethicality only as a means to higher efficiency : success and the genuinely ethical intention.

Is some global governance necessary in order to overcome anarchy in the international economic system?

Duties of multinational companies.

Does the globalized economy contradict the goal of sustainable development?

Ethics as the most relevant aspect at all levels of economic activity, from individual and organizational to societal and global.

Ecological homogenization, causing the overuse of resources and rendering impossible the application of the precautionary principle.

Is some form of localization of the economy needed?

Viability of a value-based leadership and why it has become a top managerial issue.

Definition of a corporation and what it stands for.

(Re)Consideration of the moral foundation of capitalism.

Is it possible to abandon market fundamentalism?

Economic teachings of world religions and their relevance to the renewal of life-serving modes of economizing.

Contextual and agent-centred economy evolving together: targeting the ethical make-up of agents as well as the rules and regulations of the context in which they operate.

Immorality as central explanation of all financial crises and disasters.

The “great transformation”: how economy was disassociated from its social, environmental, cultural context.

The need for a new ethical foundation for economic reason itself.

Economic determinism, “force of circumstances” versus ethical claims. Economic reductionism and why the “morality of the market” is not sufficient.

Are agents rational, self-interest maximizing beings, or do they always include considerations of other interests? On the character of motivations.

The ethical dilemma of conflicting interests.

Global relationship between business and society framed in legal and moral terms, interests and duties.

Motivations, incentives and punishment/reward schemes.

How should caring be a part of economic competence? Health of the employees, well-being of customers and the environment as companies’ objectives.

Responsibility and the many-hands dilemma.

On Corporate Transgressions, socially injurious practices and moral disengagement mechanisms.

Crisis and Trust in financial markets.

Re-examining the conceptual foundation of business and finance: are all human actions motivated by self-interest? Behavioural motivations other than that of wealth maximisation.

Studying financial impact / social and human impact / environmental impact / impact on public life of corporations / image and exemplarity.

Ethical Bank initiatives: (Ethibel, Banca Etica Italiana, Banque Alternative Suisse, Citizens Bank, Ethical Investment Cooperative. The case of the Islamic Bank of Britain.)

Sales Practices / Churning / Twisting / Flipping
The ethics of bankruptcy
Arbitration & Personal Trading
Ethics of Investment Decisions
Socially Responsible Investing and the New Finance
Relationship Investing
Hostile Takeovers
The Firm as Nexus of Contracts
Ethics in Financial Markets