By Devin Watkins
“The true economy, the one that creates work, is in crisis.”
Pope Francis launched his prayer intention for the month of May 2021 with this warning.
In “The Pope Video”, released on Tuesday, he lamented the apparent disconnect between the lives of ordinary people and the froth currently evident in several financial markets.
“How many people are now unemployed!” he said. “But the financial markets have never been as inflated as they are now.”
The Pope went on to note that high finance, if unregulated and left to its own devices, becomes “pure speculation driven by various monetary policies.”
“This situation is unsustainable. And it is dangerous,” he said. “So that the poor do not suffer painful consequences from this system, financial speculation must be carefully regulated.”
Pope Francis then repeated his emphasis on the term “speculation”.
Justice and economy
The Pope expressed his hope that finance might be a vehicle to meet people’s needs.
“May finance be a form of service, and an instrument to serve the people, and to care for our common home!”
He also urged everyone to promote a form of economy which is more just and sustainable, and which leaves no one behind.
“We can do this!” affirmed Pope Francis. “And let us pray that those in charge of finance will work with governments to regulate financial markets and protect citizens from its dangers.”
The Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, which prepares “The Pope Video” each month, released a press statement accompanying the prayer intention.
It linked the Holy Father’s concern for buoyant markets with the inequalities worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Global GDP (Gross Domestic Product), noted the statement, has suffered its sharpest drop since the end of World War II, with millions of people out of work or furloughed.
Finance for the common good
In a recent letter to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, the Pope lamented the exclusion from financial markets of people on the margins of society.
This is the reason he gives for the need to regulate financial markets, to make them work “for societal goals” and the common good.
As the press statement noted, “Market freedom and pure speculation cannot solve this kind of problem since they don’t consider the inequalities of the social fabric.”
Rather, governments need to work toward putting “human dignity back at the center” of financial markets and models.
The full text of the Pope's prayer intention is below:
"The true economy, the one that creates work, is in crisis. How many people are now unemployed! — But the financial markets have never been as inflated as they are now.
How far away is the world of high finance from the lives of ordinary people!
If finance is unregulated, it becomes pure speculation driven by various monetary policies.
This situation is unsustainable. And it is dangerous.
So that the poor do not suffer painful consequences from this system, financial speculation must be carefully regulated.
Speculation. I want to underline that term.
May finance be a form of service, and an instrument to serve the people, and to care for our common home!
We still have time to begin a process of global change to practice a different kind of economy, one that is more just, more inclusive and sustainable —and leaves no one behind.
We can do this! And let us pray that those in charge of finance will work with governments to regulate financial markets and protect citizens from its dangers."