In the early 1800s a Buddhist convent in Japan organized a financial confraternity, but then caused hardship and pain to many of its investors when it defaulted on payments. How did this happen? Although most people think that Buddhist monks and nuns have nothing to do with money, Buddhism and money have existed side by side since the Buddha preached in the forests and cities of India and Nepal 2,500 years ago. In this talk, Professor Mitchell will introduce early Buddhist ideas about savings, and then highlight how Buddhist institutions lent (and borrowed) money in premodern China and Japan. In particular, Professor Mitchell will highlight Buddhist pawn shops, simple loans, endowments, and financial confraternities (and unpack the story of the failed financial confraternity). Participants will learn about Buddhist ways of thinking about money, the role of Buddhist institutions in the larger financial systems of premodern East Asia, and ways of banking before official banks developed.


If you are unable to attend this event in person, you may register to attend via Zoom.


Part of the Karl W. Weiss ’87 Faculty Lecture Series

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