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06 July, 2014

'Profit is a means not an end'

It is the first day of the 'Trust and Integrity in the Global Economy' (TIGE) conference. Mohan Bhagwandas, international coordinator of TIGE introduces the participants to the conference by highlighting that “at this conference there is no prescription, it will be more of a discovery”.

In the second half of the plenary, the participants heard from Christian Felber, renowned economist, professor, author and creator of the concept of the 'Economy of the Common Good'. According to Felber, when students where asked in a survey what the purpose of the economic market was, they replied 'Money', 'Profit', 'Money', or 'Money' once again.

He conducted a Q&A with the audience, asking what values were at the center of a successful human relationship. From the 14 values he got from the audience, all were positive. He argued that a successful economy should be based upon the values that motivate people and are at the base of successful relationships.  In his speech Felber points out that the logic goal of the economic system should be the 'Common Good'. For this, he uses the example of the constitution of Colombia, which states: 'Economic Activity and private initiative are free, within the boundaries of the common good.' Or the Bavarian Constitution: 'The whole economic activity serves the common good'.

When Felber asked the audience, what behaviors result from Competition in the market, the audience mentions more negative attitudes such as selfishness, greed, control, and exploitation rather than positive ones. He suggests an economy model that aims toward common good and cooperation rather than financial profit and competition. Furthermore, he introduces a Common Welfare Matrix, which has been only in use for three years. He explains that even if the market economy were efficient, it would not be effective. Felber points out that the biggest problem is the concentration of the market due to its limitless status.

At the end of his speech he introduces his social movement 'Economy for the Common Good' which is a growing movement, including 1670 enterprises as supporters, 200 Pioneer companies, 100 Energy Fields and Consultants. He highlights that it not a political party but a democratic movement, which has no demands but serves to inspire. Christian aims to 'rewrite the rules to make sure the economic players can be successful while being ethical'. 

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