The Bible is quite clear on how one should orient oneself in this life towards Heaven and pursuing the kingdom of God (Matt 6:33). However, in the financial world of today, this orientation can easily be lost as secular goals replace spiritual ones. This paper will address the issue of profit maximization, insider trading, and how to convert a sinner from a Biblical perspective to show why orienting oneself towards the Heaven is so important for one’s spiritual life.
Profit maximization by itself is an inappropriate goal because it is not connected to the moral or spiritual purpose of life, as indicated in Matt. 16:26: “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” One who dedicates his life simply to storing up riches for himself here on earth is missing the ultimate goal—which is union with God in heaven for all eternity. If one truly wants to maximize profit, one will focus on spiritual profits that emanate from doing good works to others. As Christ stated, anyone who wants to do God’s will must love God and love his neighbor, as these are the two greatest commandments (Mark 12:30-31).
The problem with focusing wholly on profit maximization as a goal in and of itself is that it separates the idea of doing good unto shareholders from a spiritual good—i.e., from doing good for one’s soul. One’s soul benefits from grace, and one must be corresponding with God’s will to make use of grace. When one aims to distort markets or to exaggerate a company’s value by artificially boosting a stock’s price either through buybacks or through quantitative easing, one sends false signals into the market which, while certainly boosting shareholder wealth in the short term, do not reflect the reality of the company’s underlying condition (Heller, 2017; Van Lerven, 2016).
Moreover, chasing shareholder wealth exclusively to all other goals is the same as putting profits before people. It is a secular rather than a spiritual goal. Christ did not say, “Love God, and chase profits second.” He said, “Love God, and love your neighbor,” indicating that when one does right by God and one’s neighbors, good things will come his way. As Matthew 6:33 states, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well,” when one seeks first the kingdom of God, all else will be added unto one. In other words, by putting God and people first, profits will follow of their own accord, just as the Bible has promised. It is a matter of prioritizing—and making profits the one and only goal is to place one’s soul in jeopardy.
Insider trading occurs when an individual, acting on inside information that is not accessible by the public, trades shares accordingly by either buying or selling.
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It is quite a common phenomenon that rarely goes punished (Agrawal & Cooper, 2015). Many company’s executives—to the tune of hundreds of them—engage in earnings manipulation to inflate the stock price so that they can sell their shares at an inflated price (Agrawal & Cooper, 2015). The government agency responsible for protecting against the unethical practice of insider trading is the SEC—Securities and Exchange Commission. As Pritchard (2016) points out, “Congress has never enacted a prohibition against insider trading, much less defined it. Instead, the SEC has led in defining insider trading, albeit without the formality of rulemaking, and subject to varying degrees of oversight by the courts” (p. 55). Many individuals in government are often accused of insider trading, which shows how unethical the Justice System is, or, as Gerald Celente calls it, the “Just Us System” as in the ones running the show are typically exempt from all accountability. Hillary Clinton’s stock trading history for instance involving cattle futures which allowed her to turn a small amount of money into a nice big chunk of change is one case (Minor, 2016).
However, when Martha Stewart was convicted of insider trading it was another matter entirely: she did not have “protected” status. Indeed, the case of Salman v. United States showed that gifting confidential information to other was a violation of securities law—and so Stewart was punished, as there was evidence showing she had been gifted the information. It is called being “friends with benefits,” according to Becker (2016). Usually, friends don’t let friends go to jail, which is why Hillary and many others have avoided prosecution and why Elon Musk only received a slap on the hand for his blatant market manipulation earlier this year in an attempt to “burn the shorts.” Musk was fined $20 million dollars by the SEC, a pittance to him, while Stewart served jail time (for it is a crime punishable with up to 20 years in prison). Ps. 62:9-10 applies to insider trading especially as it refers to people taking pride in their ability to act on secret information and their ability to have an unfair advantage over others. The purpose of life is not to pursue vain status and wealth but rather to live according to the Word of God, in grace.
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