Alert

10 Trades We Are Thankful For
tastytrade logo
moral dilemma angel versus devil

Aug 5, 2022

Market Morality

By:Dylan Ratigan

There are moral boundaries most people will not cross no matter the incentive. Most of us would not be willing to accept money in exchange for hurting someone innocent. The idea of actively hurting someone is morally incomprehensible. But what happens when there’s a degree of separation between you, the morally unjust action and in between rests potential profit?

In March of 1989, 11 million gallons of oil spilled out of a tanker into Alaska’s Prince William Sound. Hundreds of thousands of marine life died as a result. It crushed the local economy. It affected food supplies. In other words, the effects of the spill reverberated beyond the sea. In 1989, ExxonMobil stock traded at just over $20. Today, it trades closer to $90. Animals died. An industry upon which livelihoods depended was upended when seas became unfishable. But people kept buying the stock and its price kept climbing.

When it comes to priorities, I can make a compelling argument that morality takes a backseat to money. We’re often willing to look the other way or make a moral compromise in the name of our individual financial security. Oil companies, weapons manufacturers, polluters, sweatshops, they all exist. We know what they do, how they operate, yet all too often we’re willing to look the other way if the money is good.

Listen, I’m not passing judgment. This is just an observation. Compromising on what’s best for what is most fulfilling, be that financially, unhealthy foods we eat, buzz from alcohol, the list goes on, is nothing new. I believe it’s a part of being human.

Markets are even more capable of compromise because they are not moral. They are efficient. They make no distinction between what is good for you or me. They simply facilitate the transfer of capital to wherever it will earn the most. Imposing our personal ethical standards on markets sounds appealing. It makes sense. But in a battle between morals and money, money tends to win.

I’m not advocating we should set aside our morals or ethics. Not at all. I’m simply stating markets ultimately do not care. We buy Nike and Apple stock because we know demand for shoes and iPhones is constant. We also know the atrocious conditions under which workers in China are subjected. It’s not that we condone those conditions but we can look the other way if it’s in our financial best interest.

Moral markets are a near oxymoron. However, that’s only because we conflate ideals with investment opportunity. Sure, there are companies that make money and hold themselves to high ethical standards. Sadly, they’re the minority. And while I’m not here to absolve you of, or offer you a hall pass for, morally objectionable behavior, I am here to point out before anyone gets on their high horse and begins throwing stones at companies for their business practices, perhaps they should take note of the glass house in which they live.

Check out the debate on this week's Truth or Skepticism. 


Special Project's Editor Josh Fabian contributed to this article.



Options involve risk and are not suitable for all investors. Please read Characteristics and Risks of Standardized Options before deciding to invest in options.

Related Posts

tastytrade content is provided solely by tastytrade, Inc. (“tastytrade”) and is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, trading or investment advice or a recommendation that any security, futures contract, transaction or investment strategy is suitable for any person. Trading securities can involve high risk and the loss of any funds invested. tastytrade, through its content, financial programming or otherwise, does not provide investment or financial advice or make investment recommendations. Investment information provided may not be appropriate for all investors, and is provided without respect to individual investor financial sophistication, financial situation, investing time horizon or risk tolerance. tastytrade is not in the business of transacting securities trades, nor does it direct client commodity accounts or give commodity trading advice tailored to any particular client’s situation or investment objectives. Supporting documentation for any claims (including claims made on behalf of options programs), comparison, statistics, or other technical data, if applicable, will be supplied upon request. tastytrade is not a licensed financial advisor, registered investment advisor, or a registered broker-dealer. Options, futures and futures options are not suitable for all investors. Prior to trading securities products, please read the Characteristics and Risks of Standardized Options and the Risk Disclosure for Futures and Options found on tastyworks.com. 

tastytrade is a trademark/servicemark owned by tastytrade.

tastyworks, Inc. ("tastyworks") is a registered broker-dealer and member of FINRA, NFA and SIPC. tastyworks offers self-directed brokerage accounts to its customers. tastyworks does not give financial or trading advice nor does it make investment recommendations. You alone are responsible for making your investment and trading decisions and for evaluating the merits and risks associated with the use of tastyworks’ systems, services or products. tastyworks is a wholly owned subsidiary of tastytrade, Inc (“tastytrade”).

tastyworks, Inc. (“tastyworks”) has entered into a Marketing Agreement with tastytrade (“Marketing Agent”) whereby tastyworks pays compensation to Marketing Agent to recommend tastyworks’ brokerage services. The existence of this Marketing Agreement should not be deemed as an endorsement or recommendation of Marketing Agent by tastyworks. tastytrade is the parent company of tastyworks. tastyworks and Marketing Agent are separate entities with their own products and services. tastytrade has different privacy policies than tastyworks.

Quiet Foundation, Inc. (“Quiet Foundation”) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of tastytrade The information on quietfoundation.com is intended for U.S. residents only. All investing involves the risk of loss. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. Quiet Foundation does not make suitability determinations, nor does it make investment recommendations. You alone are responsible for making your investment and trading decisions and for evaluating the merits and risks associated with the use of Quiet Foundation’s systems, services or products.

© copyright 2013 – 2022 tastytrade. All Rights Reserved. Applicable portions of the Terms of use on tastytrade.com apply. Reproduction, adaptation, distribution, public display, exhibition for profit, or storage in any electronic storage media in whole or in part is prohibited under penalty of law, provided that you may download tastytrade’s podcasts as necessary to view for personal use.