Narrow Banking, Real Estate, and Financial Stability in the UK, c.1870-2010

Jun 2013 | Number 116

Authors: Avner Offer

Banking in the UK was stable for more than a century after 1866.  Financial institutions were differentiated according to function.  The core banks did not engage in maturity transformation, but in managing a payments system for business.  Real estate was a potential source of instability due to high credit elasticity of demand and to long maturities, but credit was successfully rationed by building societies, who relied on the funds that their savers had actually withdrawn from consumption.  After 1945, credit rationing came under pressure from consumers and housebuyers.  Incremental liberalisations after 1971 released a tide of credit which created a property windfall economy.  Borrowers and lenders both prospered until the system collapsed under its own weight in 2007.

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