National Catholic Register

Culture of Life

On the Woes Of Wall Street

BY Phil Lenahan

October 12-18, 2008 Issue | Posted 10/7/08 at 3:32 PM

 

“Our thirst for another’s goods is immense, infinite, never quenched. Thus it is written: ‘He who loves money never has money enough.’”

This quote from the Catechism (No. 2536) is timely, given what has transpired in the economy lately. Stories that would normally dominate news coverage for weeks have been supplanted by new crises just days later: Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, AIG and Washington Mutual and, of course, the government’s $700 billion-plus bailout plan.

In a recent interview, Alan Greenspan, the former chairman of the Federal Reserve, said the challenges facing the financial sector are a once-in-a-century event. And how. We are living through historic times for American finance.

I believe this day of reckoning, while dramatic, is a necessary correction that the financial system must go through in order to re-establish a sense of balance.

I write often of the caution that sacred Scripture gives regarding the use of debt. While I believe there are productive and prudent ways to utilize debt, much of our society — at the individual, corporate and government levels — has lost its sense of caution. We have overplayed our hand. Now we have no choice but to allow artificially inflated asset values to find a floor before a recovery can begin. And, unfortunately, it’s no longer just a correction in asset values that we need to be concerned about. We must face a loss of confidence in the basic functioning of our financial system.

It’s this potential fallout that the federal government has been grappling with. We could live with a typical slowdown resulting from tightened credit markets. But there is a pretty strong consensus that, without substantial intervention by the federal government, the slowdown could accelerate into a downward spiral — the most conspicuous result of which would be waves of employee layoffs and business closings.

I am troubled by the proposed level of government intervention. With such a massive bailout, behavior that should be curbed will be rewarded. Yet, the economic impact of not taking action seems so great that it may be the best of a few bad options. Once we move beyond this crisis, one would hope that individuals, businesses and government officials would take a back-to-basics approach to managing finances. Is that too much to ask?

On the home front, make sure you are taking the necessary steps to manage your financial situation. I call this basic blocking and tackling. Do you have an annual spending plan that shows the big picture and allows you to easily review the priorities you have established? If married, have you and your spouse prayed about your priorities and agreed to them? Does your plan include amounts for charity and saving that make sense for your situation? Is your spending in line with your income?

If you have unproductive debt, do you have a plan to eliminate it? Even if you need to curtail other spending temporarily, you’ll appreciate the peace that comes with being debt free. Use the Accelerator Repayment Plan and other tools at VeritasFinancialMinistries.com to get out of debt once and for all.

What’s happening on Wall Street may be out of your control, but the gifts and resources the Lord has entrusted to you are yours to steward. Are you cooperating with the Lord by managing those in ways pleasing to him? God love you!

Phil Lenahan is the

author of 7 Steps to

Becoming Financially Free.