Evading the Taint of Usury
55 Pages Posted: 2 May 2011
Date Written: August 28, 2010
The development of capital markets in medieval Europe was shaped for centuries by the religious ban on lending money at interest. This paper examines how this prohibition developed as the outcome of strategic behavior by religious, commercial and political elites. A model is developed to analyze this hypothesis and to examine how the usury prohibition developed over time. It suggests that an important reason for the persistence of the ban was that it created a barrier to entry that enabled secular rulers, the Church, and a small number of merchant-bankers to earn monopoly rents.
Keywords: usury, transaction costs, regulatory capture, competition
JEL Classification: N23, G21
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation