Even in down times like these, America’s economy remains remarkably productive, by far the world’s largest. At its base is a distinctive form of market-driven capitalism that was championed and shaped in Puritan era Boston. [. . .] In the 1630s, religious leaders often condemned basic moneymaking practices like lending money at interest; but by the 1720s, Valeri found, church leaders themselves were lauding market economics. Valeri says the shift wasn’t a case of clergymen adapting to societal changes--he found society changed after the ministers did, sometimes even decades later.Note, however:
IDEAS: Your book comes out at an interesting moment for America’s relationship with free-market economics--to a lot of people, it looks like everyone in the financial markets has been behaving in defiance of the broader interests of the society.
VALERI: I asked a hedge fund manager I know if he had said to the traders described in [Michael Lewis’s] ”The Big Short,” ”What you’re doing will result in huge financial calamity, unemployment, people losing their homes--isn’t that socially irresponsible?”, what would they have said? He said, ”Their response would be, ’that doesn’t matter, that’s not my concern. My job is to make as much money as I possibly can.’”
My book shows the people who built the capitalist system did not think like that. The people who built the market economy had a whole cluster of deep collective loyalties and moral convictions.