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The Henry Kaufman Forum on Religious Traditions and Business Behavior

On October 31-November 1, 2013, the Center for Financial Policy hosted The Henry Kaufman Forum on Religious Traditions and Business Behavior.

This forum explored two central questions in the relationship between the world’s major religious traditions and the business behavior of adherents to those traditions:

First, what do the world’s major organized religious traditions – Protestantism, Catholicism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism – prescribe about business and financial ethics and behavior?

Second, how and why have business and financial actors seriously compromised the leading religious traditions of their cultures?

By interrogating these two core questions, the conference yielded insights valuable to contemporary business and religious leaders about abiding questions such as: Do the scriptures and doctrines of these religions appear to have had a marked effect on financial behavior? Does religion appear to be a more potent or less potent influence than business ethics courses in fostering sound, ethical, and socially responsible financial behavior? How can religion best be promulgated to make financial behavior more sound, ethical, and socially responsible?

Download Agenda | Paper & Plenary Address Summaries 

Paper Presenters

  • Bruce Baker, Assistant Professor of Business Ethics, Seattle Pacific University - "Setting the Story Straight: The Role of Narrative in Establishing the Moral Imperatives of Capitalism" | View Video
  • Susan Case, Associate Professor, Organizational Behavior, Weatherhead School of Management, Case Western Reserve University - "Guiding Lights for Morally Responsible Behavior in Organizations: Revisiting the Sacred Texts of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam" | View Video
  • Ronald Colombo, Professor of Law, Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University - "Religious Liberty and the Business Corporation" | View Video
  • Sarah Duggin, Director, Law and Public Policy Program and Professor, Columbus School of Law, Catholic University of America - "God’s Grace and the Marketplace: Why Mainline Protestant Churches Have Difficulty Offering Moral and Ethical Guidance to Business Managers and How They Can Do Better" | View Video
  • William Longbrake, Executive-in-Residence, University of Maryland - "Religious Leadership in Business: Lessons from Social Movements" | View Video
  • Robert Nelson, Professor of Public Policy, University of Maryland - "Economics as Religion: A New Perspective on the Recent Financial Crisis" | View Video
  • Richard W. Painter, S. Walter Richey Professor of Corporate Law, University of Minnesota - "Why Don’t Investment Bankers Think and Talk About Religion?" | View Video
  • Moses Pava, Dean, Sy Syms School of Business, Yeshiva University - "Everyday Idolatry and the Ideology of Free Markets" | View Video
  • Ayman Reda, Assistant Professor of Economics, Lebanese American University - "Is there an Ideal Islamic Market? An Examination of Islamic Perspectives on the Structure and Substance of Markets" | View Video
  • Steven Resnicoff, Professor of Law, DePaul University - "The Causes and Cures of Unethical Business Practices – A Jewish Perspective" | View Video
  • David Sicilia, Associate Professor of History, University of Maryland - "Religion and Business: Partners or Adversaries?" | View Video

Plenary Speakers

Henry Kaufman - "Religion and Business: The Need for Genuine Integration" | View Video

Henry Kaufman is President of Henry Kaufman & Company, Inc., a firm established in April 1988, specializing in economic and financial consulting. For the previous 26 years, he was with Salomon Brothers Inc, where he was Managing Director, Member of the Executive Committee, and in charge of the Firm’s four research departments. He was also a Vice Chairman of the parent company, Salomon Inc. Before joining Salomon Brothers, Dr. Kaufman was in commercial banking and served as an economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Dr. Kaufman, who was born in 1927, received a B.A. in economics from New York University in 1948, an M.S. in finance from Columbia University in 1949, and a Ph.D in banking and finance from New York University Graduate School of Business Administration in 1958. He also received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from New York University in 1982, and an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Yeshiva University in 1986, and from Trinity College in 2005. Dr. Kaufman’s latest book, The Road to Financial Reformation, was published in August 2009. Prior to that, he wrote On Money and Markets, A Wall Street Memoir, which was released in June, 2000. In 1987, Dr. Kaufman was awarded the first George S. Eccles Prize for excellence in economic writing from the Columbia Business School for his book, Interest Rates, the Markets, and the New Financial World.

Laura Berry - “Four Decades of Influence: Investors Bridging Morality and Markets” | View Video

The Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) welcomed Laura Berry as its Executive Director in June of 2007. ICCR is a coalition of nearly 300 faith-based institutional investors, representing over $100 billion in invested capital.  ICCR members use a variety of strategies to promote responsible corporate policies and practices on a wide range of issues including health, human rights, environmental justice, climate change, militarism, corporate governance and supply chain responsibility.  Prior to joining ICCR, Laura served The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven for five years; beginning her tenure as Vice President for Development and serving as its Senior Vice President for Philanthropic Services, responsible for a $15 million grantmaking portfolio from The Foundation’s nearly $300 million endowment. 

After a 17-year career as a Large Cap Value Portfolio Manager on Wall Street and five years in the specialty chemical industry as a Chemical Engineer, Laura began her professional commitment to the non-profit sector in 2001, as the Director of the New London Development Corporation’s Community Development Initiative. 

Laura received her Certified Financial Planner designation from Quinnipiac University, holds an M.S. from the University of Michigan, and a B.S. from Michigan Technology University.

Charles Geisst - "Usury, History's White Elephant" | View Video

Charles Geisst is the Ambassador Charles A. Gargano Professor of Economics and Finance at Manhattan College and author of Beggar Thy Neighbor: A History of Usury and Debt. Beggar Thy Neighbor recounts the major debt revolutions of the past to the most recent financial crises.

A renowned business professor at Manhattan College for more than 25 years and a former investment banker, Geisst has been a frequent contributor and commentator for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg News, NPR, The Washington Post and The Guardian, to name a few. He is also the author of The New York Times Business Bestseller Wall Street: A History (1997 and 2004), which was rereleased as a new edition in October 2012, Collateral Damaged: The Marketing of Consumer Debt to America (2009), Deals of the Century: Wall Street, Mergers, and The Making of Modern America (2003), Wheels of Fortune: The History of Speculation From Scandal to Respectability (2002), The Last Partnerships: Inside the Great Wall Street Money Dynasties (2001), and 13 other books.

Geisst received his B.A. from the University of Richmond, M.A. from The New School, and Ph.D. from the London School of Economics.

For more information, contact:

  • Michelle Lui, Assistant Director, Center for Financial Policy: 301-405-0400 or
  • David Sicilia, Henry Kaufman Fellow in Business History: 301-405-7778 or