Stories are one of the great forces of the universe; they can pull people together or drive them apart; they make people laugh, or cry, or lean in spellbound; they give people values to believe in and reasons for being. Consumers are vital to the shaping of these stories for they make the private sector work through businesses and brands. The global information revolution is creating a new culture of radical transparency, and a new meritocracy. The fact that consumers are demanding higher ethical standards is a huge creative spur for many businesses. The spectacular events of the past several weeks in financial markets and, more broadly, in the global economy will continue to have far reaching effects on consumer behavior. Consumers will find their own balance between values and 'value' in their buying decisions. The combined forces of humanity and technology make increasing levels of business transparency an inevitability.