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Olduvai III: Catacylsm
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The Fraud Inherent in Fractional Reserve Banking

The Fraud Inherent in Fractional Reserve Banking

“Our current banking system is not free market capitalism.”

Suppose you bring a fur coat to a dry cleaner and later discover that the owner allowed his wife to wear it before cleaning it (an episode from Seinfeld). Or suppose you gave your car keys to a hotel valet and was told he lent your car to teenagers who took it for a joyride while you were sleeping at the hotel. You would not be too happy and for good reason. When you surrendered your clothes or your car keys, it was a bailment. You retained ownership and gave the clothes or car keys for safekeeping. In no shape or form did you surrender ownership of the items or lend out your property.

Suppose you lived in the eighteenth century and had a hundred ounces of gold. It’s heavy, and you do not live in a safe neighborhood, so you decide to bring it to a goldsmith for safekeeping. In exchange for this gold, the goldsmith gives you ten tickets on which are clearly marked as claims against a total of ten ounces. Now, gold is heavy and burdensome to carry, so in a short period of time, those claims will start circulating in place of gold. This is the creation of near monies. This doesn’t mean you have given up your ownership claims on gold but have instead used a simpler way of transferring ownership on this gold.

Of course, the gold now just sits in the vault, and no one usually comes to get some of it or even checks that it is still there. Quickly, the goldsmith realizes there is an easy, fraudulent way to get rich: just lend out the gold to someone else by creating another ten tickets…

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Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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