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Fractional Reserve Banking, Client Collaboration, and Fraud


  • Malavika Nair



This paper traces the recent debate over the legitimacy of maturity mismatching and fractional reserve banking. It shows that there is common ground between Bagus and Howden (Journal of Business Ethics, 90(3):399–406, 2009 , 106:295–300, 2012 ) on the one hand and Evans (Journal of Business Ethics, 2013 ) on the other regarding contractual arrangements that lead to fractional reserve banking, while both agree that fractional reserve banking that arises out of a bailment or storage contract constitutes fraud. Block and Barnett (Journal of Business Ethics, 88(4):711–716, 2009 , 100:229–238, 2011 ) stress the illegitimacy of fractional reserve banking for creating more money substitutes than there is actual money. While it is true that fractional reserve banks are capable of creating money, this activity still cannot be regarded as fraudulent using a common law definition of fraud for it can only take place with requisite client collaboration that makes it impossible to identify a victim. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Suggested Citation

  • Malavika Nair, 2015. "Fractional Reserve Banking, Client Collaboration, and Fraud," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 130(1), pages 85-92, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:jbuset:v:130:y:2015:i:1:p:85-92
    DOI: 10.1007/s10551-014-2176-x

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. William Barnett & Walter Block, 2011. "Rejoinder to Bagus and Howden on Borrowing Short and Lending Long," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 100(2), pages 229-238, May.
    2. Philipp Bagus & David Howden & Walter Block, 2013. "Deposits, Loans, and Banking: Clarifying the Debate," American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 72(3), pages 627-644, July.
    3. Selgin, George, 2012. "Those dishonest goldsmiths," Financial History Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 19(03), pages 269-288, December.
    4. Philipp Bagus & David Howden, 2009. "The Legitimacy of Loan Maturity Mismatching: A Risky, but not Fraudulent, Undertaking," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 90(3), pages 399-406, December.
    5. Nicolás Cachanosky, 2011. "A Comment on Barnett and Block on Time Deposit and Bagus and Howden on Loan Maturity Mismatching," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 104(2), pages 219-221, December.
    6. Philipp Bagus & David Howden, 2012. "The Continuing Continuum Problem of Deposits and Loans," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 106(3), pages 295-300, March.
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