In Western economies, the charging of interest for loans is just something that is rarely questioned. It is deemed necessary, in order to generate income and to offset the risk that loans might not be repaid (Benfield 1968). Modern Western legal prohibitions against usury, such as they are, center on the notion of preventing financial service organizations from charging excessive interest (Lewison 1999), which is certainly how modern dictionaries define it (Oxford Living Dictionaries 2017). However, this was, and is, not always the case.
For millennia, the charging of any interest on loans at all was considered ethically wrong in many cultures and religions (El-Gamal 2006; Meislin and Cohen 1964). In both premedieval Europe and the Middle East, the charging of interest of loans was prohibited by religious authorities (Mews and Abraham 2007). However, during the Renaissance and Reformation,...
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