Some authors suggest that capitalism has become the new religion and that God did not die, but was instead transformed into money. Society has come to worship financial success as our reason for being, our raison d’être.
The Market as God analogy (Harvey Cox 2016) replaces the rights of people with the rights of shareholders. In deifying itself, the Market has become omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent, basing its existence on the business theology of supply and demand. In this type of economic infrastructure, compassion for humanity cannot exist because the poor and needy have no currency, respect nor relevance.
In the book Sapiens, Yuval Noah Harari takes this analogy one step further stating that the “capitalist-consumerist ethic” has strong religious overtones, setting the lifestyles of the rich as the utopian paradise-reward. Money and envy have become the benchmarks for achieving heaven-on-earth. Our religion of consumerism encourages the less well-heeled to “go into debt buying cars and televisions they don’t really need. The supreme commandment of the rich is Invest! The supreme commandment of the rest of us is Buy!” (Harari 2014:349).
The meek shall not inherit the earth; the rich shall profit from the flock in huge abundance, with gifts received tax-free, guilt-free and delivered with admiration and thanks.
In John Rapley’s Twilight of the Money Gods: Economics as a Religion and How it all Went Wrong, the promised land of material abundance is discussed. The book examines the discipline of economics covering the last five centuries. “While its prophets—from Adam Smith to John Maynard Keynes and Milton Friedman—concerned themselves with the human condition, its priesthood gradually grew remote from its followers, until it lost sight of their tribulations.” Rapley blames the unsustainability of our current economic state on the flawed relationship between governments and markets. The globally supported notion that the market knows best creates delusional infrastructures and financial problems, such as the inevitability of bursting bubbles, from Amsterdam tulips in 1637 to Bitcoin in 2022 (maybe?).
In a Market as God world, losing faith becomes more than personal; it can be profoundly devastating on mental, physical, economic and societal levels (Rx Music 2020).
The velocity of money is a term used by economists to describe the number of times one unit of money is used to buy goods and services per one unit of time. Under the broader definition, income velocity refers to transactions involving domestically-produced goods and services, and transaction velocity includes these goods and services plus financial services activity.
The velocity of money is an indicator for the movement of cash in the economy. During recessionary times, the velocity of money is typically low as individuals and corporations tend to save and conserve. When the economy is booming and inflation may be high, money can burn a hole in your pocket, and the tendency is to spend (and receive) more quickly and more often. Either of these conditions could be considered good or bad for a variety of reasons, but it is typically more desirable to have money changing hands more often; it is a sign of an active and stimulated economy.
Trickle-down economics (for example, the 2017 trillion-plus dollar tax benefit given to corporations and the wealthy) might not be the most efficient form of governmental support for the economy. What if the 2017 trillion-plus dollars of trickle-down Trumponomics was instead divided evenly and given to each individual in the United States? This would have put approximately $4,000 into the hands of each man, woman, and child in the country.
It is almost certain that the vast majority of this cash would end up back in circulation stimulating the economy through locally purchased goods and services. Some of these funds would be clawed back to government on a transactional basis through both income taxes (higher earners have higher marginal income tax rates) and sales taxes (the higher velocity of each dollar would reap and return more taxes).
Parking cash in the stock market has no societal benefit in this model. The financial services industry does not create value in the traditional sense as it does not contribute to a goods and services framework except through money management, hence the separate definition for transaction velocity versus income velocity. Likewise, growth in the stock market has little value in the health of the economy as the velocity and potential benefit to operational activity is negligible.
A rising stock market is of value only to the segment of the population that is most invested in it – wealthy individuals and cash-rich corporations. As far as participation goes, the middle class is typically not well-invested in the stock market as many have their assets tied up in home ownership (especially the boomer generation), and the poor typically have no discretionary income available to devote to this type of activity.
Extra funds directed toward the top 1% typically end up in the stock market providing no societal economic benefit (Rx Music 2020).