Real Stimulus

I have been thinking about the economy lately, how it is declining every passing day. The overall sentiment is pessimistic, people are losing jobs, those who still have jobs are holding back from spending because they are afraid they may lose their jobs, but it is having a ripple effect on rest of the economy, retailers, manufacturers and so on, as a result more jobs are being lost.

No doubt that the situation we are in, is a result of ruthless greed of a number of people among us, whether they be those bigwigs at Wall Street, or those shady loan officers who were approving loans without any proof of income or verifying one’s ability to pay back the loans or those consumers, who turned upside down and bought homes they could not afford either with greed or out of desperation (they might never be able to afford a home if they didn’t buy one right at that moment, that was the buzz word at the peak of the housing bubble, nobody saw this slump coming ironically).

Stimulus Package VermontI was trying to find some spiritual inspiration which can help in this kind of situation, what immediately came to my mind was a story which I read some where growing up (pardon my fading memory that I don’t have reference). The story is of a poor man, in the times of Prophet Moses(PBUH), he approached Moses one day and asked him to request God on his behalf to give him sustenance of his entire life at once, as he was literally tired of living everyday in poverty and deprivation. Moses forwarded his request to God, when he visited Mount Sinai the next time and that request was accepted.

The next morning when this poor man woke up, he found his house full of all different kind of food, grains, fruits and everything else he ever imagined having. He was grateful and happy, but soon he realized he would not be able to use all of what he had been given, so he decided to host a big feast and invited the entire town. Everybody came and was well fed and left happy and this man returned to his empty home, satisfied that he did the right thing.

The next morning he woke up, he again found his house full of food of even better variety and quality and in much more quantity. He was amazed and grateful again, however he decided yet again to have another big feast and shared his fortune with rest of the community and came home at the night with empty hands, but a satisfied heart. It continued like this for several days and this man was surprised what was going on, so he again went to Moses and told him everything he had been experiencing. Moses took his question to God, next time he visited Mount Sinai and was given the answer. The answer from God was that what was given to the man the first day, was really what was destined for him for rest of his life, however his act of generosity and charity towards his fellow beings continued increasing his sustenance and if he continued his practice of sharing his fortune with others, he would continue to receive even more everyday, without any limits.

What I understand from this story is that we need to continue to have faith and trust in God’s sustenance, off course we need to work hard and make all the effort, but our faith should be more in His blessings than in our own effort. Second, we should not be greedy and keep hoarding our fortune in our closets or our lockers while depriving the rest of the society from its benefits.

If you think about it there is even economic sense in these teachings. When everybody is greedy about hoarding as much wealth as one can, what would be the result? Probably we don’t need any imagination, as we are living that result. If we keep running after easy money, inflated returns on our investments, buying gold and gems or other valuables(passive assets) just to preserve or increase value of our wealth, we are essentially depriving the rest of the society from the benefits of our wealth and creating new “economic bubbles” which one day will burst and bring even more economic chaos.

Investing in real financial instruments(equity shares, investment bonds etc), instead of buying these passive assets may be one way to share the benefits of our fortune with rest of the society. We invested too much in passive assets (because of greed and also because like sheep we were just following the herd) and that is the root cause of the economic crises today.

Most importantly we need to bring consciousness, faith, honesty and realism back to our business, that is the real stimulus we need in today’s economy.