IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Trust in banks: a tentative conceptual framework


  • Butzbach, Olivier


Since the 2007-08 crisis, banks in many countries have been facing what seems to be a serious “trust crisis”. This sharp decline in trust in banks and banking, the likely outcome of the near-collapse of banking systems during the crisis, is partly captured by a growing empirical literature. However, this literature presents serious shortcomings, which reflect a more general lack of theorization of trust in banks. This lack of theorization certainly has much to do with the distance between the economic literature on banks and banking and the sociological and economic literature on trust. This paper aims at bridging this gap by proposing a new conceptual framework. In particular, the paper identifies three related dimensions of trust that seem to have relevance for the banking industry: “relational”, “systemic” and “vertical” trust. While mainstream financial intermediation theory and agency theory provide a good understanding of relational trust, they are less well equipped to deal with the other dimensions of trust. The paper, therefore, builds on heterodox theories of money and debt to build a more comprehensive understanding of trust in banks. This tentative conceptual framework, in turn, has implications for current theories of banking and of trust.

Suggested Citation

  • Butzbach, Olivier, 2014. "Trust in banks: a tentative conceptual framework," MPRA Paper 53587, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:53587

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: original version
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Robert Mosch & Henriëtte Prast, 2008. "Confidence and trust: empirical investigations for the Netherlands and the financial sector," DNB Occasional Studies 602, Netherlands Central Bank, Research Department.
    2. Bhattacharya Sudipto & Thakor Anjan V., 1993. "Contemporary Banking Theory," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 3(1), pages 2-50, October.
    3. Philippe Aghion & Yann Algan & Pierre Cahuc & Andrei Shleifer, 2010. "Regulation and Distrust," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 125(3), pages 1015-1049.
    4. Postlewaite, Andrew & Vives, Xavier, 1987. "Bank Runs as an Equilibrium Phenomenon," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 95(3), pages 485-491, June.
    5. Douglas W. Diamond & Philip H. Dybvig, 2000. "Bank runs, deposit insurance, and liquidity," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Win, pages 14-23.
    6. Jacklin, Charles J & Bhattacharya, Sudipto, 1988. "Distinguishing Panics and Information-Based Bank Runs: Welfare and Policy Implications," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(3), pages 568-592, June.
    7. Christophe Chamley & Laurence J. Kotlikoff & Herakles Polemarchakis, 2012. "Limited-Purpose Banking--Moving from "Trust Me" to "Show Me" Banking," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(3), pages 113-119, May.
    8. Guiso, Luigi & Sapienza, Paola & Zingales, Luigi, 2003. "People's opium? Religion and economic attitudes," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 225-282, January.
    9. Itay Goldstein & Ady Pauzner, 2005. "Demand-Deposit Contracts and the Probability of Bank Runs," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 60(3), pages 1293-1327, June.
    10. Douglas W. Diamond & Raghuram G. Rajan, 2000. "A Theory of Bank Capital," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 55(6), pages 2431-2465, December.
    11. Williamson, Oliver E, 1993. "Calculativeness, Trust, and Economic Organization," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 36(1), pages 453-486, April.
    12. Renée Birgit Adams & Paola Sapienza & Luigi Zingales, 2012. "A Trust Crisis," International Review of Finance, International Review of Finance Ltd., vol. 12(2), pages 123-131, June.
    13. Uhlig, Harald, 2010. "A model of a systemic bank run," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(1), pages 78-96, January.
    14. Edward L. Glaeser & David I. Laibson & José A. Scheinkman & Christine L. Soutter, 2000. "Measuring Trust," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(3), pages 811-846.
      • Glaeser, Edward Ludwig & Laibson, David I. & Scheinkman, Jose A. & Soutter, Christine L., 2000. "Measuring Trust," Scholarly Articles 4481497, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    15. Douglas W. Diamond, 1984. "Financial Intermediation and Delegated Monitoring," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 51(3), pages 393-414.
    16. Kreps, David M. & Wilson, Robert, 1982. "Reputation and imperfect information," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 253-279, August.
    17. Markus Knell & Helmut Stix, 2009. "Trust in Banks? Evidence from normal times and from times of crises," Working Papers 158, Oesterreichische Nationalbank (Austrian Central Bank).
    18. Larry G. Epstein, 1999. "A Definition of Uncertainty Aversion," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 66(3), pages 579-608.
    19. Saunders, Anthony & Wilson, Berry, 1996. "Contagious Bank Runs: Evidence from the 1929-1933 Period," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 5(4), pages 409-423, October.
    20. Yehning Chen, 1999. "Banking Panics: The Role of the First-Come, First-Served Rule and Information Externalities," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(5), pages 946-968, October.
    21. Rajkamal Iyer & Manju Puri, 2012. "Understanding Bank Runs: The Importance of Depositor-Bank Relationships and Networks," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(4), pages 1414-1445, June.
    22. Hyun Song Shin, 2009. "Reflections on Northern Rock: The Bank Run That Heralded the Global Financial Crisis," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 23(1), pages 101-119, Winter.
    23. Stiglitz, Joseph E & Weiss, Andrew, 1981. "Credit Rationing in Markets with Imperfect Information," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(3), pages 393-410, June.
    24. Wang, Lanlan & Gordon, Peter, 2011. "Trust and institutions: A multilevel analysis," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 40(5), pages 583-593.
    25. Boot, Arnoud W. A., 2000. "Relationship Banking: What Do We Know?," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 9(1), pages 7-25, January.
    26. Petersen, Mitchell A & Rajan, Raghuram G, 1994. " The Benefits of Lending Relationships: Evidence from Small Business Data," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 49(1), pages 3-37, March.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    Trust; banks and banking; trust crisis; financial intermediation theory; institutional theory; money and debt; heterodox economics.;

    JEL classification:

    • B25 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought since 1925 - - - Historical; Institutional; Evolutionary; Austrian; Stockholm School
    • B52 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Current Heterodox Approaches - - - Historical; Institutional; Evolutionary
    • D89 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Other
    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:53587. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Joachim Winter) or (Rebekah McClure). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.