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In the wake of the financial crisis of 2008, there has been a revival of the public and scholarly debate surrounding the concept of usury, a term typically associated with market transactions involving high interest rates. This debate, however, can be traced to the early stages of human economic activity, and the concept itself has gone through many changes in its meaning and applications. This shifting and controversial history of usury makes it especially difficult to define it precisely and conclusively. It is therefore useful to present a brief history of the term’s definition and use while explaining its relevance to contemporary economy and society.

Much has been said and written about the real causes of the crisis and of the policies that can effectively address ...

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