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Bankocracy (from the English word bank and Ancient Greek κράτος - kratos, "power, rule") or trapezocracy[1] (from Greek τράπεζα - trapeza, "bank") is a polemic term referring to the excessive power or influence of banks on public policy-making.[2] It can also refer to a form of government where financial institutions rule society.


One of the first uses of the term was by British Member of Parliament William Fullarton (1754–1808), who in a parliamentary debate on April 10, 1797 characterized the monopoly of the Bank of England as being a more important issue to solve than the peace attempts to end the war against France:[3]

United States Senator Robert J. Walker (1801–1869), a staunch opponent of the Bank of the United States, delivered a speech in the Senate on January 21, 1840, where he warned that the acceptance of paper money as legal tender would "overthrow the Constitution, subvert the liberties of the country, and the rights of the people, and establish the reign of a bankocracy, more sordid, ruinous, and despotic, than that of any monarch, however absolute."[4]

Pierre-Joseph Proudhon used the term in his work Les Confessions d’un révolutionnaire (1849), in reference to the July Monarchy:[5]

The term was also used by Karl Marx in his work Das Kapital, Kritik der politischen Ökonomie (1867). He theorizes the birth of national debt as the catalyst for the primitive accumulation of capital:[6]

In Marxian economics, the term cognates with finance capitalism in general.[7]

Numerous political observers and journalists have used the term when describing or commenting on the 2007–2012 global financial crisis.[8][9][10]