We Are Not Omniscient

Article / Produced by TOW Project
San francisco 210230 620

Humanity does not know everything, and individually each of us knows only a tiny fraction of what can be known. God created each of us with our own unique mind which takes in, processes and remembers things differently from anyone else. Human endeavor depends on each of us using our individual knowledge for mutual benefit, rather than on each of us learning everything needed for success.

Limited knowledge and asymmetric information are mediated by financial markets. This means that when a loan is entered into the borrower has more information about his or her ability to repay than does the lender. It means that when we buy a stock it is possible that the seller knows something about the stock that we do not. This asymmetry will impact our willingness to participate in financial markets and will impact financial prices. Finance is built on two obligations that turn asymmetric information from a hindrance into an opportunity. First, we use promises to convey our certainty about information we possess that other parties do not. My promise to repay the mortgage, under penalty of losing the house, gives you the confidence to deposit money in the bank that funds the mortgage, even though you do not know my likely future earnings. Secondly, we prohibit falsifying information in financial transactions. If your investment documents tell me that there is a $3 billion market for products like yours, this information must be accurate. Because of this, we can make use of information provided by others, even if we do not have personal knowledge of its accuracy.