Monday, September 22, 2008

"Liquid Trust" or "Living Trustworthiness"?

In the midst of the greatest economic crisis since the onset of The Great Depression, I pondered approaches, and now endorse one.

Since these problems are based in fear, which then create a lack of faith in business partners and among consumers, we need to restore trust, which can regenerate liquidity of funds and permit long-term workouts.

Could a simple solution be found in a bottle?

Liquid Trust is produced by Vero Labs. It is one of many such products based upon human pheromones, which are explained by Wikipedia:

A pheromone (from Greek φέρω phero "to bear" + ‘ορμόνη "hormone") is a chemical that triggers a natural behavioral response in another member of the same species.

There are alarm pheromones, food trail pheromones, sex pheromones, and many others that affect behavior or physiology. * * *
The vendor claims that its enhanced Liquid Trust can restore a feeling of trust, by employing, Oxytocin:
Liquid Trust is the world's first product that contains Oxytocin the hormone that controls the level of trust and security in people.

Scientists have proven that the hormone Oxytocin, is largely responsible for who we trust. If your boss, manager or employees have high levels of Oxytocin, you have a much better chance of getting a raise or promotion. * * *

When you spray Liquid Trust on yourself, you are gaining an instant competitive edge. Your manager and other co-workers will immediately feel strong bonds to you and your ideas.

This will actually help you get ahead because they will trust you and the work that you do. * * *
The original version of Liquid Trust was released in 2006, according to "Liquid Trust in a Bottle: New Oxytocin Product Has Hit the Market" (08/11/06) by Tori, posted by Associated Content.
Liquid Trust is a spray that comes in a little bottle that oddly resembles a nail polish bottle (in my opinion). * * *

According to their website, “There are different ways of increasing the Oxytocin levels in the people you interact with. Scientists say that simply touching someone who you are talking to, makes them produce Oxytocin.

When that happens, they start to form a very strong bond with you. They trust you." * * *
See also: "Human Pheromone Reviews - Liquid Trust" by Kyle Macrannell, posted on EZine Articles.

Many other marketed products contain pheromones, intending different results in human interactions.
See: "Most effective 'Pheromone' Product Reviews" (07/02/08), which reviewed seven products (but not "Liquid Trust"). For accounts of users' personal experiences with various products, see: "Liquid Trust" on PheromoneTalk.

However, predictable effects of pheromones remain under research, according to "Pheromones, in context" (10/02/02), by Etienne Benson, posted by American Psychological Association Online. She interviewed knowledgeable scientists, who highlighted actual research on pheromones.

She concluded that scientific research can only suggest, but not predict, specific effects of pheromones on human behavior, and therefore cannot endorse vendors' promotional claims.

It can be concluded, however, that pheromones do have a purpose:

"In animals, [pheromones] are involved very strongly in care of offspring, in recognizing members of your social group, in recognizing family members," [Martha McClintock, PhD] says.

"In thinking about what the normal function might be, we know from the animal work that we need to think broadly in social terms and that the same compound might serve differently in different contexts." * * *
Our basic biological systems sought to protect us from threats, and to promote survival, through coded material transferred naturally and interpreted in feelings by each of us.

Now, on a grand scale, the activities of financial markets are characterized by anonymity, fungibility, separation, and complexity. No one but insiders can use the "smell test" that has preserved our race in other settings.

So, pheromones won't work to guide us through a financial crisis. Indeed, their use would mislead us and mask reality.

Instead, we must rely upon societal values that promote responsible financial behavior -- the age-old, religion-endorsed, standards of honesty and accountability, which I call "living trustworthiness."

Remember what "trust" means in social and personal contexts:
Trust is a relationship of reliance.

A trusted party is presumed to seek to fulfill policies, ethical codes, law and their previous promises.

Trust does not need to involve belief in the good character, vices, or morals of the other party. Persons engaged in a criminal activity usually trust each other to some extent. Also trust does not need to include an action that you and the other party are mutually engaged in.

Trust is a prediction of reliance on an action, based on what a party knows about the other party. Trust is a statement about what is otherwise unknown -- for example, because it is far away, cannot be verified, or is in the future. * * *
Recommitment by Americans to act with "living trustworthiness" is essential. An accompanying reworking of our laws mandating "living trustworthiness" in financial dealings will institutionalize this commitment. Such laws, with provisions for disclosure, notices, source reports, periodic revaluations, investor reviews, administrative regulation, and personal responsibility, must be a societal substitute for the pheromones that our bodies developed for the very same purposes -- feeling trust in others.

Can "living trustworthiness" on a large scale be implemented?

It could, if lawmakers, business leaders, and citizens would each act as the unnamed character in the classic poem by Edgar A. Guest, "It Couldn't Be Done."

Update: 09/22/08 @ 5:30 pm:

Of all the articles I've read about implementing reforms, this one, sent to me by an MAI-rated real estate appraiser, makes the most sense, using a nuts-and-bolts approach taught by experience.

I highly recommend reading "Restoring Confidence: Learning From the S&L Crisis To Address the Subprime Mortgage Problem" (PDF, 8 pages) by Thomas Inserra, a former Resolution Trust Corporation trustee.