The IMF Working Papers series is designed to make IMF staff research available to a wide audience. Almost 300 Working Papers are released each year, covering a wide range of theoretical and analytical topics, including balance of payments, monetary and fiscal issues, global liquidity, and national and international economic developments.
Over the past seventy years, the proposal to narrow the scope of banks has occurred more and more frequently in financial debates and research. Narrow banking would prevent deposit-issuing banks from lending to the private sector and restrict nonbank intermediaries from funding investments with demand deposits. Proponents of narrow banking defend it as a step toward greater financial stability and efficiency. This study reviews the literature on the subject, contrasts the concept of narrow banking with contemporary banking theories, and evaluates the potential consequences of narrow banking on finance and the real economy. The study also runs an empirical exercise to estimate the costs of bank narrowness and draws policy conclusions.