Catholic Social Science Review

Volume 18, 2013

Stephen Nakrosis
Pages 169-186

The Ethics of Speculation in the Works of Oswald von Nell-Breuning

The Jesuit theologian and economist, Oswald von Nell-Breuning (1890–1991), struggled with the question of how the conscientious Christian could properly use financial tools, including speculative trades. One of Germany’s most-respected economists during his lifetime, Nell-Breuning’s observations of the market span his 100-plus years, from the heady years prior to the Great Depression to the more modern and global financial markets of the late twentieth century. This paper will introduce some of his ideas regarding speculative trades, discuss his conclusions regarding the morality of speculative transactions, and attempt to apply his ideas and observations to the modern financial sphere.