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Good Value: Reflections on Money, Morality and an Uncertain World Hardcover – February 3, 2010

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press (February 3, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802119174
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802119179
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.8 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,872,343 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Beginning with the recent financial crisis, Green, the former CEO of HSBC and an ordained Anglican priest, launches into a deeply reflective examination of globalization, urbanization, and the market economy. Drawing on a diverse range of sources—from the Koran to The Wealth of Nations, T.S. Eliot to Thomas Friedman—and placing market vicissitudes into a broad historical context, he contends that globalization has passed the point of no return and that, despite its flaws and failings, the market economy is the best economic arrangement available. Green pivots to consider the importance of corporate and personal responsibility in an increasingly interdependent world. Though the author does describe the Christian foundations for his own metaphysical and ethical views, he spends more time discussing Goethe's Faust than any Gospel. Green never calls for any particular reform; rather he makes an inspiring and erudite case for individuals to make moral sense of their lives and strive to make a better world despite the inherent imperfections in human nature and the globalized marketplace. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Green, former CEO and current chairman of HSBC, the fourteenth largest bank worldwide in total assets (in American dollars), and an ordained minister, considers good business and a good life, and values and the common good, and laments the massive breakdown in trust of the financial system, business, politics, and the media. The author reviews the astonishing impact of globalization on human history and consciousness, and then he takes us forward and inward with personal reflections on the purpose of work and the meaning of life. He discusses three ambiguities in the search for personal peace: human imperfection, uncertainty, and hope or belief that something better is possible. Green decries compartmentalization, or when individuals apply different standards to their business lives than to their personal lives. This excellent book is valuable for those entering the workplace, those in midcareer crises, and those retiring, and it will appeal to many library patrons. This prominent banker’s thoughtful perspective is an important contribution to business principles. --Mary Whaley

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Ira E. Stoll VINE VOICE on March 4, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
For readers interested in how religion informs views of capitalism, this is an excellent example.

No matter what you think of Green's argument, it's a beautifully written and lucid book that ranges widely in history and literature. It's a book not just about financial policy but about living a meaningful, examined life.

As a writer, Green has an eye for the telling factual detail. To cite just one example, on globalization: "I have listened to the work of and Italian composer (Puccini) in a Chinese opera house (in Beijing) designed by a Frenchman (Paul Andreu)."

At its core, though, this is a book about what Green sees as the limits of capitalism and how he hopes to transform it.

Early on, Green quotes Milton Friedman's view that "There is one and only one social responsibility of business - to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits so long as it stays within the rules of the game, which is to say, engages in open and free competition without deception or fraud."

Green calls that view "dangerously simplistic," and says businesses now "must consider value from the perspective not just of investors, but of customers, employees, suppliers, communities and - increasingly - the environment, too."

Green's own feelings about free-market capitalism are mixed: "At its best, as we have seen, there is no more powerful engine for development and liberation than the market. At its worst, it is a dangerous moral pollutant that nourishes some very poisonous weeds in us."

At time, Green is downright hostile. He quotes Paul: "The love of money is the root of all evil." Money, he writes, has become "the modern Mephistopheles," the servant of Lucifer, the Devil.

What is the alternative?
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By laurens van den muyzenberg on February 20, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Bankers are in the doghouse seen as the main culprits of the recession. It is therefore an important event that a highly successful prominent banker presents his convictions about moral standards. The book leaves you in no doubt that Stephen Green (SG) is a banker with good intentions, writes what he honestly believes, and wishes banks to contribute to the well-being of society at large and most importantly tells what should change and what cannot.

SG makes several "final" statements about the economic system that he believes to be true, which coming from a person with so much credibility should be accepted by all.
For example: "The Friedmanite (Milton Friedman) idea that the sole job of a business is to create profit for shareholders has proved insufficient to sustain value and-in the end- a bad deal for shareholders". Richard Lambert, the Director General of the CBI (Confederation of British Industry) still wrote in 2010 in the FT: "Business in some ways quite simple. It has clearly defined aims. The aim is to make money." And Lambert is far from the only one still holding this view.
Other example: "Government oversight, regulation and, in time of stress, intervention are essential". "Markets cannot be relied on to be stable and self-regulating". Good-bye to laissez faire and egocentric country sovereignty.
Other example: "Nor can the market be relied upon to be sufficient for a balanced social development (that is solve poverty problems)"
However, make no mistake SG consider the free market the prime force for the development of prosperity; he makes many suggestions how to channel it for the benefit of society at large.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Rolf Dobelli HALL OF FAME on April 5, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Depending on your perspective, HSBC Chairman Stephen Green's analysis of the global economy and the moral ambiguities that will inevitably shape society's evolution is either brilliant or convoluted. It may be both. Readers will applaud Green's intellect as he draws from fertile philosophical, literary and religious sources to frame his take on civilization's economic beginnings and development. The one drawback is that his obsession with detail and stylistic prose can sometimes obscure his fundamental points. Green ponders where society is headed in this age of globalization and economic uncertainty, and how people will adapt without compromising their humanity. getAbstract finds that his hopeful prescription positions him more as a philosopher than as a major banking executive, though he willingly shoulders both roles.
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