Artikel in Lexika und Handbüchern
Ethics of Digitilization in the Financial Sector Using the Example of Financial Services
The digitalized financial world finds its expression in the many screens in front of which brokers sit and complete their trades—often, still by telephone. However, this is an insignificant part of financial trading. By far, the greater part is now handled by high-speed computers, which make buying and selling decisions in fractions of a millisecond, accumulating minimal differences in value to enormous profits and significantly influencing the financial sector and, from there, labor and goods markets (Gsell 2010; Gresser 2016, 2018). Financial economists such as Bernard Lietaer assume that a key moment in the financial crisis of 2007, which began with the collapse of the Lehman Brothers investment bank, was due less to the greed of managers and speculators than to the hyper-efficiency of high frequency trading: “Natural river systems become sustainable because nature does not strive for maximum efficiency, but for an optimal balance between efficiency and resilience” (Lietaer 2009, p. 157). According to Lietaer, the systems were too strongly trimmed for efficiency, and were therefore not sufficiently resilient. The collapse of the banks led to remarkable social problems behind the technical processes. Banks lost confidence and stopped lending money. The credit crunch also threatened to bring social life to a standstill, and could only be averted by massive state guarantees and debt absorption by the taxpayer. Once again, this example shows that technical infrastructures have a strong influence on the world, determining how people experience the possibilities they have to realize their own lives, and how coexistence is shaped. This calls for a serious moral question, which according to Böhme (1997, p. 17, see also Manzeschke and Brink 2022) is reflected in ethics.