Posted by: Tayo Akinyemi | March 26, 2012

Musings on the Link Between the Financial Crisis and Sustainability

I was in my second year of business school during the nadir of the financial crisis—the brief period during which Lehman failed, Merrill Lynch and Bear Stearns were purchased, and AIG tottered on the edge of destruction.  I just happened to be taking a class on financial markets and institutions that semester, so my classmates and I had the unique opportunity to dissect the mind-boggling events as they occurred.  Unfortunately for me, that was my first foray into this type of material, so I often found myself a bit lost.

Then one evening, during a dinner with one of my professors (who just happened to be thought leader in the area of base of the pyramid business development and sustainability), something clicked.  He was talking about how the financial crisis would force a change in “business as usual” for the average banker.  If the commentary of Greg Smith, the Goldman Sachs VP who very publicly told his employer to “take this job and shove it”, is at all indicative, this sea change is yet to be seen.  However, my professor’s words inspired a mini “aha” moment for me.  Why couldn’t I couch what was happening in the in financial markets class in terms of my focus on sustainable global enterprise, and create a framework for understanding both?

Long story short, that was what I resolved to do as part of an independent study.  I was rather proud of what I produced (given my struggle to master the financial markets material), but no one saw it except for my adviser and a few close friends.  But today, because my mind is on sustainability, I have decided to post what I wrote nearly four years ago.  So, here it is: my amateur thoughts on economics and sustainability.  A lot has happened in the world since I wrote this, and my understanding is probably less than sophisticated, but enjoy nonetheless!


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