Despite the attitude of the medieval church many Christians loaned money. Especially widespread was the practice of moneyed men to evade the spirit of the law without violating its letter by becoming silent partners in trading enterprises. Gradually the attempt even to comply with the letter of the law was abandoned; one by one the nations withdrew their support from this particular canon law. Then the church reluctantly bowed its head to the force of expediency. From that time, accumulations of wealth have more and more sought outlets to investments. Now numerous groups give their entire time to bringing lenders and borrowers together. We have seen already how important in this respect are the various kinds of bankers. Only a little less so are note brokers, real estate loan agencies, building and loan associations, and lawyers.
So common is the phenomenon of borrowing and lending that scarcely one of us has ever given a thought of why interest can be paid, and how much the rate should be. Yet no subject in modern economics has created more discussion and debate. The ablest economists of the time have spent years on the why phase of interest, and have published monumental works to support their conclusions. This unsettled situation, however, need not deter us from glancing hastily at the question in its broadest aspects.