The Ethical Economics
Study Center

Welcome to the Ethical Economics Study Center

The simple purpose of this website and everything contained within is to explain that a free market capitalist economic system requires people to conform to a set of ethical principles. If they do so, economic outcomes will be more fair, more just, more efficient, and more equal. When people do not behave ethically, economic outcomes are worsened.

Unfortunately for almost a century, the ethical content of economics has been mostly hidden from view in economics textbooks. As a result, some believe, incorrectly, that markets allow for the unfettered pursuit of self-interest, even if that requires deception, fraud, theft, or a flagrant disregard for the negative effects on others. In fact, although these behaviors do promote individual self-interest, they are not consistent with well-functioning markets in a capitalist system.

This site will provide resources that explain how and why ethics is important to the economic system. These are important lessons, especially today, as many business leaders and politicians seem convinced that success is based solely on how much profit is made or how fast GDP grows regardless of how it comes about. In addition, an increasing number of people have become critical of modern capitalism, especially since the world financial crisis of 2008, and believe that it is responsible for many of our current problems.

I believe many of these opinions are misguided and have arisen largely because the importance of ethics has been suppressed. We should recognize that pursuit of profit is good, but only when it is subject to ethical constraints. Also, modern capitalism clearly has many problems, but many of those arise precisely because ethical standards are not adhered to, promoted sufficiently, or enforced. Free market capitalism remains the best system known to humankind to promote a just, fair, and flourishing society. However, when I say free market capitalism, I mean the kind of capitalism that is described in these pages. Take time to explore the content in this website to see what I mean.

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This site was created and is maintained by Steve Suranovic, an Associate Professor of Economics and International Affairs at The George Washington University in Washington, DC.