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8 Other exchanges of money as put forth from the viewpoint of the receivers of exchanges of money.

299. As we examine, then, the remaining exchanges of money put forth at the end of our first chapter, we seem to have to distinguish and state what actually happens and what could happen inasmuch as it is perceived from their statements that sometimes these exchanges do occur and sometimes they could occur.

300. When we consider, then, how this happens, all of those money exchanges not on the part of the money changers but on the part of Peter who gives money to a money changer to be delivered to himself in another place seem to be unjust absolutely speaking. Because the money changer is not receiving the money from Peter for his own benefit but for Peter's for whom it is to be delivered elsewhere, no justice permits the money changer to suffer any loss from this action.

He would, however, suffer loss in these exchanges in at least two ways. The first is that his service, by which he delivers money, received in Milan safely and in the same amount transferred in Florence, would remain unrecompensed. Yet, this is a service for pay. The second way is that the money changer gives or will give more, as Peter hopes, than he received because the Florentine ducats are worth less at Milan where they are given to the money changer than at Florence where they are delivered. Hence, the money changer, if he is to avoid a loss in this regard ought to send them to Florence and thus incur a greater loss of expenses. Otherwise, by paying them outside of Florence, it is obvious that he is giving more than he received. These two ways take place in the three first instances. In the other three instances, however, where, in addition to what was said, Peter wants four ducats beyond those one hundred, the money changer incurs a third loss.

301. I have said, however, that these things are not permissible inasmuch as they happen because such men demand these things from a money changer because of the use of the money that they give for the interval from its giving until its delivery. They say, "You meanwhile will make a profit with this money, and will adapt it to your business; therefore, I also want some benefit." In this way, they want to make a profit, not without usury, by unjustly measuring the profit coming from the industry for the money changers and not as coming from the money.

302. I said, however, when we speak of them in themselves because these things can accidentally happen without any fault. Some look at the third case this way. Peter, because of some impropriety on the part of the merchants and money changers cannot know the worth of his ducats in Florence and needs his money there, estimates a just price just as the exchanges will then be worth, not with the hope of profit. Money changers are also accustomed freely to give their service to the first who asks lest perhaps in their desire to transfer their money they earnestly request to want to enter into a contract of money changing with them. Thus, they promise an equal amount of money in Florence, and it seems a possible transaction. For, although the money changers do this because of the employment of money, nonetheless, their service is not burdensome in these instances because they completely produce it for other business and money exchanges and make payment to the ministers. The little and usual seem to be considered as nothing, as Saint Thomas says about the use of a book given as a pledge.

303. If, however, we were to talk about these as possible money exchanges, namely, Peter could buy from a money changer in Milan one hundred Florentine ducats, that are to be delivered at Florence, or could exchange coins, while paying attention to the quality of the coins and the spatial distance, as we have said about money changers' contracts, then, all the aforesaid money exchanges could be justified because it sometime happens that one hundred and two are bought elsewhere as one hundred, as is clear from our statements.

304. The fact that Peter does not intend to make absent money present but intends to make present money absent is no problem. Because of Peter's diligence, it happens that, as he is about to make his money absent, he is offering it for such a money exchange or for a contract for buying something to be delivered in that place when he might have simply thus transferred it at his personal loss. By means of such business, he may transfer it at a profit. Such industry does not deserve condemnation, as would be found in a fraud, but praise, as would be found in industry that is inventive of ways that are at once just and profitable. Hence, Proverbs says, "The godless man would destroy his neighbor, but by knowledge the righteous are delivered" (11:9). (1)

305. It is true that many happen to want to transfer their money from one place to another. They learn that others make a profit from such a transfer at least because of the difference in money, and they do not know the difference between a contract of simple transference and this kind of contract of exchange. In their confusion they aim at making a permissible profit not from the use of the money that they give to the money changer but from the money exchange from which they believe others make a profit. Because of this situation, it does not seem that these men are to be condemned, but rather their contracts should be interpreted in the better part. Because they say that they want profit from the money exchange, they seem already to express indirectly a contract that they do not know they want to enter into. This would be especially true were they to argue that they want this contract because if the money changers themselves made such a contract with them, they would demand a greater profit. From this fact it is absolutely clear that they intend to enter the aforesaid money-exchange contract, and they are more just in entering it to the degree that they do it more mildly than the money changers.

306. There is also the fact that it does not seem true that those who commonly do actually wish to transfer their money profitably say that they want this profit for the use of the money. Perhaps there are some evil men who say this, but I think that it is truer that some speak so out of ignorance in the belief that they are giving a reasonable cause. If they indeed out of ignorance give such a reason, they would intend to enter into a contract and thus derive a profit. Although they would make a mistake in giving a reason, they are not, however, acting unjustly. It is similar to the case in which someone believes that he is properly profiting in a contract for buying and selling because of the time for which he keeps his money occupied, and he neither sells nor buys except at just price.

307. There are two possible indications by which we may know who intends to act this way out of ignorance. The first is if they have no intention to get involved in any way in usurious contracts. The second, however, is if they give another reason that touches upon a permitted contract. For example, they believe that it is permissible for them just as it is for money changers. Let this be our treatment of money changing.

Milan, at the Convent of Holy Mary of Graces, in the Year of Salvation 1499, the 10th of December.

308. Reverend Father, such seem to be my opinions about money changing, with due respect for the judgment of all who have better opinions. You, then, peruse carefully with your acute native genius these statements. If I have lived up to your expectations, thanks are to be given to Almighty God and the godlike Thomas. If not, forgive me. For, I have done what I can in accordance with the abilities of the small native talent given me. Farewell.


(1) Tr. note: The text omits ore, found in the Vulgate, as noted in the notes, and in the Revised Standard Version. The text, therefore, should read, With his mouth the godless man would destroy his neighbor, but by knowledge the righteous are delivered.
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Title Annotation:On Exchanging Money (1499)
Author:Brannan, Patrick T.
Publication:Journal of Markets & Morality
Article Type:Excerpt
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 22, 2007
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