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The Competitive Advantage of Moneylenders Over Banks in Rural Palestine

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According to the British Government in Mandate Palestine, the tendency of the fallahin (Arab peasants) to "strategic default" and the monopolistic power of local moneylenders led to high interest lending in rural areas. The government sought to remedy this by assisting banks in collecting bad debts, by guaranteeing some bank loans and by imposing the maximum legal interest rate. However, the colonial perception was incorrect. Defaults were usually "involuntary" as a result of natural and occasionally man-made hazards (thus creating a high interest rate environment), and the moneylending market was "contestable." In such an environment, despite government assistance, moneylenders had a comparative advantage over banks. They were usually merchants who could easily utilise collateral on loans (crops and lands); they ignored the law of maximum interest rate and they had good information about borrowers. For these reasons moneylenders remained the main source of credit for the fallahin. D'après le gouvernment britannique dans la Palestine sous mandat, la propension des fallahin (les paysans arabes) à se trouver en « défaut de paiement stratégique » et le monopole des prêteurs locaux expliquent les prêts à intérêts élevés dans les régions rurales. Le gouvernent essaya de pallier cette situation en aidant les banques à reprendre les créances irrécouvrables, en garantissant quelques prêts bancaires et en imposant un taux d'intérêt maximum légal. Cette interprétation coloniale était cependant erronée. Les défauts de paiement étaient en général « involontaires » , le résultat d'aléas d'ordre naturel ou parfois humain (créant un taux d'intérêt élevé) et le marché du prêt était « contestable ». Dans ces circonstances, et malgré l'aide gouvernementale, les prêteurs avaient un avantage par rapport aux banques. Il s'agissait en général de marchands qui pouvaient facilement faire usage des nantissements garantissant les prêts (récoltes ou terrains); ils ne tenaient pas compte de la loi de taux d'intérêt maximum et ils étaient bien informés sur les emprunteurs. Tous ces faits expliquent pourquoi les prêteurs demeuraient, pour les fallahin, la principale source de crédit.

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/content/journals/10.1163/1568520053450718
2005-01-01
2017-02-23

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