Banking, Justice, and the Common Good

In popular fiction and the mass media, banking is commonly portrayed as dominated by selfish individuals with no interest in others beyond how they can be exploited. Undoubtedly, some people working in banking do behave in such a manner. The business of banking would, however, surely grind to a halt if this were normal practice.

Banking, like any other lawful commercial activity, involves people forming relationships. These relationships are normally with different objectives in mind, but nonetheless they are the fruit of lasting associations formed between one or more individuals. Most of the relationships formed through banking are concerned with people making decisions about the use of their own or others' property. While the term property normally refers to a part of the material world that someone occupies or uses, property should be understood here as referring not only to land, what is permanently attached to it, and other goods, but also to money and whatever it can buy, including claims to services, entities such as insurance policies, and certificates for stock.