Banks - Explained
What is a Bank?
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What are Banks?
Somebody once asked the late bank robber named Willie Sutton why he robbed banks. He answered: “That’s where the money is.” While this may have been true at one time, from the perspective of modern economists, Sutton is both right and wrong. He is wrong because the overwhelming majority of money in the economy is not in the form of currency sitting in vaults or drawers at banks, waiting for a robber to appear. Most money is in the form of bank accounts, which exist only as electronic records on computers. From a broader perspective, however, the bank robber was more right than he may have known. Banking is intimately interconnected with money and consequently, with the broader economy.
Banks make it far easier for a complex economy to carry out the extraordinary range of transactions that occur in goods, labor, and financial capital markets. Imagine for a moment what the economy would be like if everybody had to make all payments in cash. When shopping for a large purchase or going on vacation you might need to carry hundreds of dollars in a pocket or purse. Even small businesses would need stockpiles of cash to pay workers and to purchase supplies. A bank allows people and businesses to store this money in either a checking account or savings account, for example, and then withdraw this money as needed through the use of a direct withdrawal, writing a check, or using a debit card.
Banks are a critical intermediary in what we call the payment system, which helps an economy exchange goods and services for money or other financial assets. Also, those with extra money that they would like to save can store their money in a bank rather than look for an individual who is willing to borrow it from them and then repay them at a later date. Those who want to borrow money can go directly to a bank rather than trying to find someone to lend them cash. Transaction costs are the costs associated with finding a lender or a borrower for this money. Thus, banks lower transactions costs and act as financial intermediaries—they bring savers and borrowers together. Along with making transactions much safer and easier, banks also play a key role in creating money.
Back to: ECONOMIC ANALYSIS & MONETARY POLICY
- Legal Tender
- Gresham's Law
- Functions of Money
- Gold Exchange Standard
- Bretton Woods System
- Fiat Money
- Monetary Base
- How Do Banks Create Money?
- Bank Balance Sheet
- Velocity of Money
- Multiplier Effect
- McCallum Rule
- Neutrality of Money
- Real Bills Theory
- Banking System?
- Central Bank
- Federal Reserve System
- Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC)
- Fed Balance Sheet
- Term Auction Facility
- Taylor Rule
- How is the Federal Reserve Bank Organized?
- What is Bank Regulation?
- CAMELS Rating
- Bank Supervision
- Bank Runs
- What is Deposit Insurance?
- Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
- Lender of Last Resort
- Central Banks Carry Out Monetary Policy
- Bank Reserve
- Discount Rate
- Federal Funds Rate
- Monetary Policy
- Contractionary and Expansionary Monetary Policy
- Easy Monetary Policy
- Accommodative Monetary Policy
- Dove & Hawk (Monetary Policy) - Explained
- Tight Monetary Policy - Explained
- Stabilization Policy
- Pushing on a String
- The Effect of Monetary Policy on Interest Rates
- Federal Funds Rate
- Gibson Paradox
- Vasicek Interest Rate Model
- Equation of Exchange (Economics)
- The Effect of Monetary Policy on Aggregate Demand
- Reserve Currency
- What are Excess Reserves?
- Unpredictable Movements of Velocity
- Central Banks - Unemployment and Inflation
- Fisher Effect
- Asset Bubbles and Leverage Cycles
- Quantity Theory of Money
- European Capital Market Institute