A Short Review of the Historical Critique of Usury

internet version from www.AlastairMcIntosh.com

Wayne A.M. Visser and Alastair McIntosh

Centre for Human Ecology

The following text is now also available in PDF of the original - click here

First published in Accounting, Business & Financial History, 8:2, Routledge, London, July 1998, pp. 175-189.


Usury - lending at interest or excessive interest - has, according to known records, been practiced in various parts of the world for at least four thousand years. During this time, there is substantial evidence of intense criticisism by various traditions, institutions and social reformers on moral, ethical, religious and legal grounds. The rationale employed by these wide-ranging critics have included arguments about work ethic, social justice, economic instability, ecological destruction and inter-generational equity. While the contemporary relevance of these largely historical debates are not analysed in detail, the authors contend that their significance is greater than ever before in the context of the modern interest-based global economy.

Keywords: usury, interest, debt, discounting, Islamic banking

Comments on The Nature of Money in Modern Economy — Implications and Consequences by Stephen Zarlenga and Robert Poteat

Prof. Dr. Asad Zaman (website)
Vice Chancellor, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics, Islamabad

Excerpt: The history of the world can be seen as a history of the battles to control the power of money creation. Even though it naturally belongs to the state, there have always been financiers who have sought to capture this power and take it away from the state to use it for their personal ends. An understanding of these battles is essential to understanding the nature of modern money, and the power struggles currently going on for its control globally.
(with minor edits to change specific references to Islam to universal moral principles)

The Nature of Money in Modern Economy — Implications and Consequences

Stephen Zarlenga and Robert Poteat ( American Monetary Institute )

Abstract. This paper discusses the great importance of the monetary question, and briefly examines some of the dominant erroneous concepts of money and their effects upon societies. It also points and links to the great progress currently being made by researchers in this field, so readers can examine them more fully. It presents very brief summaries of what some of the important new papers do. It also aims at helping instructors in outlining a reading curriculum to assist in a long overdue understanding of money power. Finally, the paper presents a money and banking system proposal which has evolved since the Great Depression of the 1930s, and is now ready for implementation and has even been introduced as potential legislation into the United States Congress.