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Usury (from the Medieval Latin usuria, "interest" or "excessive interest", from Latin usura "interest") was defined originally as charging a fee for the use of money. This usually meant interest on loans, although charging a fee for changing money (as at a bureau de change) is included in the original meaning. After moderate-interest loans were made more easily available usury became an accepted part of the business world in the early modern age. Today, the word has come to refer to the charging of unreasonable or relatively high rates of interest.


When once the usurer has obtained complete control of monetary creation, the interest mechanism has achieved its purpose, and could the be given up. When the usurer lent the original gold coinage, he created a debt claim and appropriated the interest. When, however, he began to create and lend money, he appropriated both interest and capital. Thus the usurer's (i.e. banker's) wealth and power finally derive from this credit creation, wherein, as Major Douglas puts it, "power comes not from charging interest but in creating new claims and appropriating them."

- Human Ecology p127

Human Ecology

The following exerpt about Usury is on page 84.

The Oxford English Dictionary gives the following definition;

The fact or practice of lending money at interest; esp. in later use, the practise of charging, taking, or contracting to receive excessive or illegal rates of interest for money on loan.

The word today is generally taken to mean lending at excessive or unconscionable interest though what constitutes an excessive interest rate is uncertain. for our purpose here we need not consider this definition, and usury here simple means the practise or fact of lending money at interest; and by interest is meant money aid for the use of money lent. It will be apparent, however by reference to the lending actions describedin the introduction, that usury is a very variable nature, depending e.g. on what variety of money is lent, on whether the money is lent by a private individual or by a financial institution etc.

In a serious consideration or the subject therefore it is necessary to particularise carefully. Jeffery Mark saw this clearly and in his Analysis of Usury (Dent. 1935) (p26) he distinguished a major and a minor variety, thus;

there are two forms of usury. the major form is that represented by bank loans and the discounting of bills, and the minor form by the creation of interest bearing savings, investments, or inheritances, which as government or municipal stock, industrial shares, bonds, debentures, mortgages, or capital claims on land, plant and property, make up the debt structure in every country. The common and essential feature in all these processes, here comprehended as the major and minor principles of usary, is the payment of money interest on money lent.

... we must always differentiate between lending by private persons and lending by banks or other credit making institutions. In the later case they create the means of payment out of nothing and then proceed to appropriate both capital and interest.

Bear Stearns takeover

Economics commentators

Info.svg Bird and Fortune Credit crunch skit

Rep. Paul Kanjorski

Martin Wolf

David Walker

George Soros

Jim Cramer

Jim Rogers

Joseph Stiglitz

Paul Krugman

Marc Faber

Paul Volcker

Peter Schiff

Ron Paul

Leo Panitch

Robert Kiyosaki (Get rich style publisher)

Don McAlvany

Jean-Claude Trichet

Other comments

Companies involved in Credit crunch

FBI probe widens to 17 firms Among companies implicated in FBI mortgage probes are Beazer Homes and Doral Financial. The largest US mortgage lender, Countrywide, is also under FBI investigation, authorities have said.

See also