The Orthodox Church in Russia has proposed a banking model that corrects what it sees as the most serious of that global banking industry’s moral failings, says Rev. Gregory Jensen in this week’s Acton Commentary. However the system the Church purposes is unlikely to foster economic growth. It also overlooks the convergence of the free market with key elements of the Orthodox moral tradition.
Banks require varying amounts of collateral from and charge different interest rates to different customers. Yes, the bank does this to protect its own profitability. For the Orthodox moral tradition there is nothing necessarily immoral in the pursuit of profit. More importantly for our concern here, however, profit is not the bank’s only concern.
Treating potential customers differently also reflects the bank’s moral responsibility to determine and safeguard the unique circumstances of the person and so the ability of the borrower to repay the loan. This isn’t morally wrong. While it may seem unfair, when we look at the situation more carefully we see that it reflects the very financial personalism that Surmilo says is at the heart of the Russian model.