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Free Minds & Free Markets

Does Fractional Reserve Banking Endanger the Economy? New at Reason

Texas Tech University's Robert Murphy vs. Cato's George Selgin

Two free market economists debated a topic that has long divided libertarians. Fractional reserve banking refers to banks' standard practice of keeping only a portion of their depositors' money on hand and loaning out the rest. In The Mystery of Banking (1983), the anarcho-capitalist economist Murray Rothbard called fractional reserve banking "a shell game, a Ponzi scheme, a fraud in which fake warehouse receipts are issued and circulate as equivalent to the cash supposedly represented by the receipts." Other libertarian economists, such as Larry White and Steve Horwitz, have argued that the practice is perfectly defensible.

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