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英国论文网:British and Dutch GDP:The spread of the cri(51)


power over time.
Lending is an ancient human activity. Embedded in it is the suspicion of
immoral conduct on the part of the lender, seen as the one who, for personal profit,
either encourages the borrower’s spendthrift ways or exploits the borrower’s
genuine needs. Which is why in some human communities, at certain times in the
past but also today (for example in the Islamic world), charging interest on money
loaned was/is forbidden by either law or religion.
The very concept of money was probably devised at the dawn of humanity
along with that of credit, and perhaps even at its service, as a means of transferring
spending power over time by detaching it from any specific physical good.
Money flanked and possibly surpassed credit as a source of negative symbols in the
popular imagination.
Yet money and credit are part of what has enabled human beings to free themselves
from the barbarism of immanence, from the savagery of a life ruled by the
consumption for survival, which is spent in an instant. They teach man to think
about the unfolding of time and they do so by appealing to the most powerful of
all psychological levers, that of desire and need. Learning how to project a desire
into the future or to predict a need is a fundamental step in evolution. It pushes
Finance, market, globalisation:
a plot against mankind?
Salvatore Rossi
Bank of Italy
73
people to design a method for satisfying future desires or needs, and that method
is saving. If everyone’s savings is lent to someone else, both the personal (if the
loan is interest-bearing) and the social utility are augmented, because two ends are
simultaneously met: that of investors who have in mind their future consumption
(needs-desires) and that of those who instead require additional immediate
purchasing power, motivated by the mere urge to consume, but possibly – and
this is the most socially interesting case – by the desire to increase their own
productive capacity, and therefore by a plan that is equally far-sighted and futureoriented.
In a monetary economy, finance – consisting of markets and intermediaries
whose job is to assure the optimal allocation of resources and risks – is what makes
the saving-credit-investment gears turn. It is one of humanity’s great intellectual
achievements. Yet it does not enjoy the universal admiration accorded to such
other intellectual watersheds as the wheel or the number zero. The problem is that
everybody can use the wheel and the number zero profitably, easily and naturally,
while by definition finance creates a conflict of interest between two major,
and equally deserving, categories: lenders and borrowers. The first group will want
to see high interest rates and broad guarantees, be they real collateral or based on


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