Weaknesses of fractional reserve lending | The monetary system | Macroeconomics | Khan Academy | Summary and Q&A

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March 21, 2012
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Khan Academy
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Weaknesses of fractional reserve lending | The monetary system | Macroeconomics | Khan Academy

TL;DR

Fractional reserve lending is unstable and can lead to bank failures, loss of customer trust, and economic downturns.

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Questions & Answers

Q: What is the biggest negative consequence of fractional reserve lending?

The biggest negative consequence is the inherent instability of the system, as bank failures and loss of customer trust can occur when the lent out money is not available on demand.

Q: How does fractional reserve lending affect the economy?

Fractional reserve lending can lead to a run on banks, major bank failures, and a downward spiral in the economy as a result of lending being unwound.

Q: How does government intervention address the instability of fractional reserve lending?

Governments often insure banks through organizations like the FDIC, which provides a backstop for banks in case they do not have the money to fulfill customer withdrawals.

Q: What are the consequences of FDIC insurance on banks' incentives?

FDIC insurance removes market incentives for banks to scrutinize their financials and make responsible loans, as customers do not worry as much about the safety of their deposits.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Fractional reserve lending is inherently unstable, as banks lend out a portion of their deposits but promise customers that their money is available on demand.

  • If a bank makes bad loans or becomes the subject of rumors, customers could rush to withdraw their money, leading to a run on banks and potential bank failures.

  • Government intervention, such as FDIC insurance, attempts to address these issues, but it creates a lack of market discipline and incentives for banks to manage money responsibly.

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