Given that the investment value is also measured and returned in terms of money, we get the notion of compound interest and “putting money to work.” Those who have money demand returns based on the investment risk they are willing to assume. And the role of modern financial system becomes one of balancing this risk-reward equation. Finance professionals focus on the investment value of money to make oodles of it. It not so much that they take your money as deposits, lend it out as loans, and earn the spread. Those simple times are gone for good. The banks make use of the fact that investors demand the highest possible return for the lowest possible risk. Any opportunity to push this risk-reward envelope is a profit potential. When they make money for you, they demand their compensation and you are happy to pay it.
Put it that way, investment sounds like a positive concept, which it is, in our current mode of thinking. We can easily make it a negative thing by portraying the demand for the investment value of money as greed. It then follows that all of us are greedy, and that it is our greed that fuels the insane compensation packages of top-level executives. Greed also fuels fraud – ponzi and pyramid schemes.
Indeed, any kind of strong feeling that you have can be bought and sold for personal gain of others. It may be your genuine sympathy for the Tsunami or earthquake victims, your voyeuristic disgust at the peccadilloes of golf icons or presidents, charitable feeling toward kidney patients of whatever. And the way money is made out of your feelings may not be obvious at all. Watching the news five minutes longer than usual because of a natural disaster may bring extra fortune to the network’s coffers. But of all the human frailties one can make money out of, the easiest is greed, I think. Well, I may be wrong; it may actually be that frailty that engendered the oldest profession. But I would think that the profession based on the lucrative frailty of greed wasn’t all that far behind.
If we want to exploit other people’s greed, the first thing to ask ourselves is this: why do we want money, given that it is a meta-entity? I know, we all need money to live. But I am not talking about the need part. Assuming the need part is taken care of, we still want more of it. Why? Say you are a billionaire. Why would you want another billion? I think the answer lies in something philosophical, something of an existential angst, although those with their billions would the last ones to admit it. The reason behind this deep-rooted need for more is a quest for a validation, or a justification for our existence, and a meaning and purpose for our life. It is all part of that metaphorical holy grail. I know, it sounds a bit nutty, but what else could it be? The Des Cartes of our time would say, “I have loads of money, therefore I am!”