Loans and Investments (Classic Reprint)

Loans and Investments (Classic Reprint)

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Excerpt from Loans and Investments

They furnish borrowers, because they provide a more or less generally acceptable substitute for coined money as a circulating or purchasing medium. The bank note, the promise of a bank to pay money on demand, is quite obviously a credit instrument which is a substitute for money; and in the absence of legal restrictions upon issue the volume of such notes in circulation would clearly depend upon the willingness of people to accept them in payment for goods and services. Partly because of legislation limiting the power to issue notes, and even more because the check has been found more convenient for most purposes, the bank note has become a subordinate and rather special means of extending credit. Banks, of course, do not extend credit directly by issuing checks, since the check is an order on a bank to pay money, not a bank's promise to pay money. Such orders are based upon obligations to pay money recorded on the books of the bank, known as deposits. This term deposits is a misnomer. It suggests to most people that the bank has at some time or other received from depositors the amount of their deposits in money. Banks are often spoken of as lending their deposits. This is a most inaccurate and misleading use of lan guage, since deposits are obligations already in curred, an existing liability, which, moreover, is largely due to loans granted. Clearly a bank can not lend its already existing obligations to pay.

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