Friday, July 26, 2013

Timur Kuran Calls Islamic Finance a Scam

I get a huge amount of spam from something called "Inayah Group". Most of it is in Arabic or has no content but I noticed this item while deleting the daily influx (I check quickly through my spam folder before deleting because I wouldn't want to delete legit e-mail from some grad student in a developing country etc.): Timur Kuran calls Islamic finance a scam in an interview in the Financial Times. I found this interesting because I had assumed that Islamic finance was based on equity investing rather than debt-based investing but here he says that interest is disguised as fees etc. Of course, Judaism also prohibits the charging of interest  to other Jews (as did Christianity in the past at least). This was got around using the heter iska (permit for business), which it seems is not that far from what Islamic finance does in practice. Another trick is to pay the interest to a third party rather than the lender.

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