Adam smith describes it so admirably that it would be stupid not to quote his words:–‘the

No doubt all precautions may, in the end, be unavailing. The circulation of bank-notes decreases, and the deposit of money with the banker increases. They have sometimes discounted these bills with their own capital, and if they can re-discount them at a slightly lower rate they gain a difference which at first seems but trifling, but with which they are quite content, because this system of lending first and borrowing again immediately enables them to turn their capital very frequently, and on a few thousand pounds of capital to discount hundreds of thousands of bills; as the transactions are so many, they can be content with a smaller profit on each. These restrictions were originally due partly, perhaps, to a feeling of jealousy on the part of the Court of Directors of the East India Company lest the Banks should compete in business (such as foreign exchange) which the Company regarded as its own; but chiefly from a proper wish that semi–official institutions, in a country so dangerous for banking as India, should be conducted on the safest possible principles.

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