Thursday, September 18, 2008

Origin and Nature of Credit.

Origin and Nature of Credit. — There can be no system of credit until there has been a considerable accumulation of capital; for, when capital first begins to be accumulated, those who possess it apply it directly in aid of their own labor. As a country increases in wealth, many persona acquire capital which they cannot employ in their own business, or can only employ by offering inducements to purchase in the shape of deferred payments. As soon as a sufficient capital exists, a system of credit has a natural tendency to arise, and will continue to grow with the increase of capital, unless it be checked by a general insecurity of property, by imperfect legal securities for the payment of debts, or by a want of confidence in the integrity of the parties who desire to borrow. When the society and laws of a country are in a sound state, and capital is abundant, credit comes fully into operation.

In a recently published article, the Hon. George B. Roberts, Director of the United States Mint, thus lucidly discusses the nature and value of credit as a substitute for money:

"There is a very common misunderstanding of the meaning of the word 'credit' when used as a banking term. Some people associate it wholly with advances of money or goods upon time, but credit is also a substitute for money in cash transactions. When a customer gives a merchant a check for a bill of goods and the merchant deposits the check for his own bank account and simultaneously draws against it, credit is being used, and a great convenience and economy are effected over payments of money from hand to hand. When payments are between distant localities the advantages are obviously greater. The great bulk of the payments between the East and West are accomplished by offsetting the purchases they make of each other. The great bulk of the bank deposits of the country are created in this way, and not by passing money over the counter. All of this involves the use of credit. This method of doing business will not be changed. The public will not go back to a greater use of money from hand to hand; on the contrary, it is certain that the various forms of bank credit will more and more become the means by which payments are made."

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