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The Past and Future of Commercial Banking Viewed through an Incomplete Contract Lens


  • Rajan, Raghuram G


Commercial banks emerged at a time when contracts were very incomplete and property rights insecure. They typically offered demand deposits, made loans on demand, and were regulated. Each of these aspects of the institutional structure were essential in helping the bank provide the twin functions of liquidity and safety. The author argue that recent theories of banking, which he collectively refer to as 'Incomplete Contract' theories of banking, explain well the origins of banking. The authors also claim that they can explain recent changes in banking; as the informational, legal, and property rights environment has improved, there appear to be fewer synergies between various aspects of the traditional institutional structure of the bank. In developed countries, it is now time to think whether there is anything special about the institutional form of the bank, or whether all that is special is that it is regulated.

Suggested Citation

  • Rajan, Raghuram G, 1998. "The Past and Future of Commercial Banking Viewed through an Incomplete Contract Lens," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 30(3), pages 524-550, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:mcb:jmoncb:v:30:y:1998:i:3:p:524-50

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Marie-Odile Yanelle, 1997. "Banking Competition and Market Efficiency," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 64(2), pages 215-239.
    2. Bhattacharya Sudipto & Thakor Anjan V., 1993. "Contemporary Banking Theory," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 3(1), pages 2-50, October.
    3. Thakor, Anjan V., 2000. "Relationship Banking," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 9(1), pages 3-5, January.
    4. Tim S. Campbell, 1987. "The valuation cost approach to the theory of financial intermediation," Proceedings 169, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
    5. Ernst-Ludwig von Thadden, 1995. "Long-Term Contracts, Short-Term Investment and Monitoring," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 62(4), pages 557-575.
    6. David Besanko & Anjan V. Thakor, 2004. "Relationship Banking, Deposit Insurance and Bank Portfolio Choice," Finance 0411046, EconWPA.
    7. Stahl, Dale O, II, 1988. "Bertrand Competition for Inputs and Walrasian Outcomes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(1), pages 189-201, March.
    8. Thakor, Anjan V., 1996. "The design of financial systems: An overview," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 20(5), pages 917-948, June.
    9. Boot, Arnoud W. A. & Thakor, Anjan V. & Udell, Gregory F., 1991. "Credible commitments, contract enforcement problems and banks: Intermediation as credibility assurance," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 15(3), pages 605-632, June.
    10. Milgrom, Paul R & Weber, Robert J, 1982. "A Theory of Auctions and Competitive Bidding," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(5), pages 1089-1122, September.
    11. Udell, Gregory F., 1989. "Loan quality, commercial loan review and loan officer contracting," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 13(3), pages 367-382, July.
    12. Matutes, Carmen & Vives, Xavier, 1996. "Competition for Deposits, Fragility, and Insurance," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 5(2), pages 184-216, April.
    13. Winton Andrew, 1995. "Delegated Monitoring and Bank Structure in a Finite Economy," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 4(2), pages 158-187, April.
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