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In this clip we see Tywin and Cersei talking about the Iron Bank and how it always gets its money.

This shows that even the Lannisters, who are the most powerful family in the country, are afraid of the Iron Bank.

So how does it always get its money back? Is there anything in the books states how it does get it back?

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    If the debtors do not pay back, then the Iron Bank will exhort them by hiring faceless men and supporting political enemies. Without legal protections for banking systems this is the only recourse they have. – Anonymous Feb 2 '17 at 13:56
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    They have deep pockets and long arms. If you don't pay them back, they'll just keep lowering the interest rate your enemies have to pay on loans. – Valorum Feb 2 '17 at 23:21
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    I advise you to look into the history of Europe's large merchant houses starting in the 16th century (most notably the Fuggers) who lent substantial sums to various European noblemen. The Fuggers didn't have the authority to collect debts of sovereigns (nobody did – they're sovereign after all), so if sovereign debtor A "defaults", they would often back a rivalling sovereign B through a low-interest loan to finance a war against A on the condition that B will collect the debt owed by A on behalf of the Fuggers. – David Foerster Feb 3 '17 at 12:08
  • … fun fact in relation to that: Switzerland had an economy based largely on mercenary armies that B might have hired in that situation. Since they couldn't rely on the banks of their clients to manage all these funds they made their own. Hence all the Swiss banks and political neutrality and also the Swiss Guard of the Pope. Nobody wanted to mess with Switzerland because they wouldn't allow you to hire their mercenaries to fight each other. – David Foerster Feb 3 '17 at 12:16
  • @DavidFoerster I bet that caused no issues for the average peasant. I'm being sarcastic - who knows how many lives were lost due to medieval banking. – SynchronizeYourDogma Feb 4 '17 at 5:02
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Always remember the following words...

The Iron Bank will have its due.


The bank will not issue new loans unless payments are being made on older ones, and it seems like that may be enough..

A group of merchants appeared before her to beg the throne to intercede for them with the Iron Bank of Braavos. The Braavosi were demanding repayment of their outstanding debts, it seemed, and refusing all new loans. We need our own bank, Cersei decided, the Golden Bank of Lannisport. Perhaps when Tommen's throne was secure, she could make that happen. For the nonce, all she could do was tell the merchants to pay the Braavosi usurers their due.

A Feast for Crows - Cersei VIII


Although if and when it is not enough for the Iron Bank, they will still have their due...

Remember one of the main reasons the Bank decides to give loans to Stannis is because the current regime is not paying. Stannis gives the Bank another form of recourse. It is a large gamble that ultimately failed, but their intent was to back a new King would pay his debts.

The banker pressed his fingers together. "It would not be proper for me to discuss Lord Stannis' indebtedness or lack of same. As to King Robert... it was indeed our pleasure to assist His Grace in his need. For so long as Robert lived, all was well. Now, however, the Iron Throne has ceased all repayment."

Could the Lannisters truly be so foolish? "You cannon mean to hold Stannis responsible for his brother's debts."

"The debts belong to the Iron Throne," Tycho declared, "and whosoever sits on that chair must pay them. Since young King Tommen and his counselors have become so obdurate, we mean to broach the subject with King Stannis. Should he prove himself more of our trust, it would of course be our great pleasure to lend him whatever help he need."

A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 44 (Jon IX)

Jon continues to reflect on what happens to those who do not pay the Iron Bank, as he had just signed a deal as well.

He did not have to like it, though. And come spring, when the time came to repay all that gold, he would like it even less. Tycho Nestoris had impressed him as cultured and courteous, but the Iron Bank of Braavos had a fearsome reputation when collecting debts. Each of the Nine Free Cities had its bank, and some had more than one, fighting over every coin like dogs over a bone, but the Iron Bank was richer and more powerful than all the rest combined. When princes defaulted on their debts to lesser banks, ruined bankers sold their wives and children into slavery and opened their own veins. When princes failed to repay the Iron Bank, new princes sprang up from nowhere and took their thrones.

A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 44 (Jon IX)


If all else fails, the Iron Bank could hire the Faceless Men, like Petyr Baelish had suggested Robert do with Daenerys. Although, there is no direct evidence that to support the Bank has done this...

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    I think the bit about "raise new princes" should get top billing: the Iron Bank will lend to your enemies with really great terms if you don't pay up. "Not making new loans", unless the new loans are bigger than the old ones, isn't a way to get paid back. – Yakk Feb 2 '17 at 18:09
  • @Yakk I have the quotes in order of appearance... though yes, "We will overthrow you!" is a much more forceful strategy than "No money for you..." – Skooba Feb 2 '17 at 19:40
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    Great answer with a very little detail missing. I guess in the books, Iron Bank did not lend money to Stannis, they gave it right away. They might consider losing a few hundred thousand stags is negligible compared to the three million stags and its interest. – C.Koca Feb 2 '17 at 22:11
  • @Yakk, Skooba, etc.: it looks like this comment section is turning into an interesting longer discussion, so I've moved it to chat, where you can continue as long as you like. – Rand al'Thor Feb 3 '17 at 0:04
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    Very good answer, nothing much I can find to add to this. – Möoz Feb 3 '17 at 2:36

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