After the failure of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB), a great deal of Americans are starting to realize the dangers of fractional-reserve banking. Reports show that SVB suffered a significant bank run after customers attempted to withdraw $42 billion from the bank on Thursday. The following is a look at what fractional-reserve banking is and why the practice can lead to economic instability.
The History and Dangers of Fractional-Reserve Banking in the United States
For decades, people have warned about the dangers of fractional-reserve banking, and the recent ordeal of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) has brought renewed attention to the issue. Essentially, fractional-reserve banking is a system of bank management that only holds a fraction of bank deposits, with the remaining funds invested or loaned out to borrowers. Fractional-reserve banking (FRB) operates in nearly every country worldwide, and in the U.S., it became widely prominent during the 19th century. Prior to this time, banks operated with full reserves, meaning they held 100% of their depositors’ funds in reserve.
However, there is considerable debate on whether fractional lending occurs these days, with some assuming that invested funds and loans are simply printed out of…