The Global Recession of 2007–2009: The Moral Factor and Jewish Law

Aaron Levine

in The Oxford Handbook of Judaism and Economics

Published in print December 2010 | ISBN: 9780195398625
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

The Global Recession of 2007–2009: The Moral Factor and Jewish Law


This article focuses on the recent global recession that raged the world and in particular the United States with special reference to Jewish law. In December 2007, the United States economy plunged into the longest and deepest downturn since the Great Depression. The driving force behind the recession was the widespread failure of the subprime mortgage market, the segment of the home mortgage market extending loans to households with impaired credit histories and with little or no documentation of income. The collapse of that sector occurred in a rapid succession of events beginning with the fall of Countrywide Financial in January 2008. This article further moves to explain the moral factor pervading the recession and analyses the situation as per Jewish law. The central relevant moral dictum of Jewish law is the Imitatio Dei principle, which says that, in our interpersonal conduct, we should emulate the various attributes of mercy.

Keywords: recession; economy; Jewish law; Great Depression; imitatio dei

Article.  12632 words. 

Subjects: Economics ; Economic History

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