The Hubris of Hybrids

Journal of Business Ethics 145 (2):373-382 (2017)
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Abstract

In the pages of this journal, a fruitful debate has evolved on the ethical legitimacy of fractional-reserve banking. In this article, we respond to the new arguments raised by Evans as we clarify our position on the unethical and illegitimate nature of fractional-reserve banking. Fractional-reserve banking is not a recent financial innovation but represents a long-standing legal aberration. The co-mingling of two mutually exclusive financial contracts, deposit and loan, confounds the contracting parties’ purposes, intents, rights, and obligations. As a result, it creates unsolvable legal difficulties and ethical dilemmas. While these problems are most evident in the case of a bank run, they also arise when trying to answer the simple question of “who owns a deposit?”

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