Cowton, Christopher J. and San-Jose, Leire (2010) Giving credit where it’s due – but no more: an ethical analysis of trade credit. Working Paper. Financial Ethics and Governance Research Group University of Huddersfield, Huddersfield, UK. (Unpublished)

In spite of its commercial importance and signs of some concern by some commentators, trade credit has not been subjected to serious ethical analysis. This is especially important in the current financial crisis, given that credit from banks is in short supply, leading to increasing pressure on trade credit. In addition to identifying trade credit as a topic of ethical significance, this paper develops an analysis of the ethics of trade credit grounded in an understanding of its purpose. Making a distinction between “operating” trade credit and “financial” trade credit, it provides an account of the maximum period for which it is appropriate for one company to delay payment to another from which it has purchased goods or services. This has implications not only for companies that take credit but also for external commentators who seek to rate companies according to their speed of payment. The responsibility of suppliers not to extend excessive credit, and thus act as a quasi-bank, also follows from the analysis developed.

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