Evading the Taint of Usury

55 Pages Posted: 2 May 2011

See all articles by Mark Koyama

Mark Koyama

George Mason University - Department of Economics; George Mason University - Mercatus Center

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

Koyama, Mark, Evading the Taint of Usury (August 28, 2010). Explorations in Economic History, Vol. 47, No. 4, 2010. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1829062 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1829062

Mark Koyama (Contact Author)

George Mason University - Department of Economics ( email )

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HOME PAGE: http://mason.gmu.edu/~mkoyama2/About.html

George Mason University - Mercatus Center ( email )

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