Saturday, May 5, 2012

How Roman women got around the banking system

Some women in ancient Rome had already implemented the concept of microcredit in order to develop their own work projects.

The study conducted by Carmen Lázaro, professor of Roman Law at the Universitat Jaume I, shows how women managed to get around legal rules that excluded them from using banks to obtain credit. Instead, they developed contracts between themselves to loan or receive small amounts of money, guaranteed by pledging their personal effects – mainly smaller items, such as jewellery.

Tracing the transactions

The existence of this microcredit system is known through various sources – mainly epigraphic – such as the inscriptions found in the Granio House in Pompeii – which reflect legal transactions such as the ones carried out by moneylender Faustilla, who set her interest rate at 6.25%.
Lázaro points out that these loans were done legally and avoided the need to be approved officially by the authorities “since money was a fungible good and therefore, not subject to formalities for the transmission to provide legal effects.”

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