Business ethics, being part of the larger social ethics, has always been affected by the ethics of the epoch. At different epochs of the world, people, especially the elites of the world, were blind to ethics and morality which were obviously unethical to the succeeding epoch. History of business, thus, is tainted by and through the history of slavery, history of colonialism, and later by the history of the cold war. The current discourse of business ethics is the ethical discourse of the post-colonialism and post-world wars. The need for business ethics in the current epoch began gaining attention since the 1970s. Historically, firms started highlighting their ethical stature since the late 1980s and early 1990s, as the world witnessed serious economic and natural disasters because of unethical business practices. The Bhopal disaster and the fall of Enron are instances of major disasters triggered by bad corporate ethics. It should be noted that the idea of business ethics caught the attention of academics, media and business firms by the end of the overt Cold War. Cold wars, seen through pages of history, were fought through and fought for American business firms abroad. Ideologically, promotion of firms owned by American nationals were presented as if they represented freedom, and local resistance against the excess of American firms were labelled as communist upraising sponsored by the Soviet Block. Further, even legitimate criticism against unethical practice of firms was presented as if it were infringement into the "freedom" of the entrepreneurs by activists backed by communist totalitarians This scuttled the discourse of business ethics both in media and academia. Overt violence by business firms has decreased to a great extent in the democratic and media affluent world of the day, though it has not ceased to exist. The war in Iraq is one recent examples of overt violence by corporations.
In 1997, over $700 billion purchases were charged on credit cards, and this total is increasing at a rate of over 10 per cent a year. At first glance, the credit card market would seem to be a rather concentrated industry. Visa, MasterCard and American Express are the most familiar names, and over 60 per cent of all charges are made using one of these three cards. But on closer examination, the industry seems to exhibit most characteristics of perfect competition. Consider first the size and distribution of buyers and sellers. Although Visa, Mastercard and American Express are the choices of the majority of consumers, these cards do not originate from just three firms. In fact, there are over six thousand enterprises (primarily banks and credit unions) in the US that offer charge cards to over 90 million credit card holders. One person's Visa card may have been issued by his company's credit union in Los Angeles, while a next door neighbour may have acquired hers from a Miami B