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Monday, February 02, 2009

Number crunching - fractional reserve banking

Supposedly, banks lend 10 times (or more) what they have on deposit. Yet in June last year, it was estimated that total UK consumer borrowing (mortgages, loans and credit cards) stood at £1.444 trillion, and in October savings and deposits reportedly totalled £1.17 trillion - a ratio of c. 1.2 to 1.

By contrast, total U.S. household debt at the beginning of last year was estimated at $14.4 trillion, and in October the Mises Institute reckoned the True Money Supply to be $5.5 trillion, a ratio of around 2.6 to 1.

On the face of it, the American consumer is in twice as dire a state as his British counterpart.

I expect that's an oversimplification - but simplicity is in very short supply. I'd like to understand more, but I can't find reliable, user-friendly data on where all the money and debt is. There's far too much secrecy, complexity and obfuscation in this business.

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