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A critique of full reserve banking

Sheila Dow, Guðrún Johnsen () and Alberto Montagnoli ()
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Guðrún Johnsen: University of Iceland

No 2015008, Working Papers from The University of Sheffield, Department of Economics

Abstract: Proposals for full reserve banking have been put forward as a radical way of preventing further financial crises. They rest on the argument that crises are caused by excessive money supply growth brought about by inadequately controlled bank credit creation. Our aim is to provide a critique of the theoretical assumptions underlying the plans for full reserve banking. In particular some of the plans rely on the view that the money supply is a key causal variable and that it is feasible for central banks to identify and enforce an optimal quantity. Second, the plans all rely on an unsupported confidence in the efficiency of financial markets outside the centrally controlled banking system. Third, by removing profit-making opportunities from banks, the proposals may unduly tip the balance further in favour of shadow banking. Finally, as the case of 95% liquidity requirements on Kaupthing, Singer and Friedlander in the wake of the Great Financial Crash shows that modern financial engineering makes such policy-making difficult to execute. A Minskyan analysis rather emphasises the inherent instability of the financial system such that it is subject to systemic crises and the indeterminacy of demand for liquidity, while also emphasising the contribution prudent banking can make to financing economic activity and providing a safe money asset. While a return to a traditional separation of retail banking (regulated and supported by the central bank) from investment banking (regulated differently but not supported) would contribute to financial stability, it is argued that the full reserve banking proposals go too far.

Keywords: bank regulation; full reserve banking (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: E5 G21 G28 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 23 pages
Date: 2015-03
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cba, nep-hpe, nep-mac, nep-mon and nep-pke
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http://www.sheffield.ac.uk/economics/research/serps/articles/2015_008 First version, March 2015 (application/pdf)

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Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:shf:wpaper:2015008

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