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The slack banker dances: deposit insurance and risk-taking in the banking collapse of the 1920s

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  • David C. Wheelock
  • Subal C. Kumbhaker

Abstract

This paper studies the effects of deposit insurance on bank behavior using individual bank data from Kansas in the 1920s. Kansas banks were severely stressed by the collapse of agricultural prices in 1920 and resulting increase in farm mortgage defaults. Because membership in the state deposit insurance system was voluntary, it is possible to compare the behavior of insured and non-insured banks facing similar exogenous circumstances. We find that deposit insurance encouraged excessive risk-taking, which helps to explain the comparatively high failure rate of insured banks. The deposit insurance fund ultimately failed to reimburse many depositors of failed banks. We find, however, no evidence of a decline in the credibility of insurance, and hence in the ability of insured banks to take excessive risks, before the system’s collapse in 1926.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis in its series Working Papers with number 1992-002.

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Date of creation: 1992
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Publication status: Published in Explorations in Economic History, July 1994
Handle: RePEc:fip:fedlwp:1992-002

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Keywords: Bank failures ; Deposit insurance ; Banks and banking - History;

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References

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  1. Frederick T. Furlong & Michael C. Keeley, 1991. "Capital regulation and bank risk-taking: a note (reprinted from Journal of Banking and Finance)," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Sum, pages 34-39.
  2. Furlong, Frederick T. & Keeley, Michael C., 1989. "Capital regulation and bank risk-taking: A note," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 13(6), pages 883-891, December.
  3. Wheelock, David C & Kumbhakar, Subal C, 1995. "Which Banks Choose Deposit Insurance? Evidence of Adverse Selection and Moral Hazard in a Voluntary Insurance System," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 27(1), pages 186-201, February.
  4. Gerald P. O'Driscoll, 1988. "Bank Failures: The Deposit Insurance Connection," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 6(2), pages 1-12, 04.
  5. Kareken, John H & Wallace, Neil, 1978. "Deposit Insurance and Bank Regulation: A Partial-Equilibrium Exposition," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 51(3), pages 413-38, July.
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Cited by:
  1. Mayes, David G., 2004. "Who pays for bank insolvency?," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 23(3), pages 515-551, April.
  2. Eugene N. White, 2011. "“To Establish a More Effective Supervision of Banking”: How the Birth of the Fed Altered Bank Supervision," NBER Working Papers 16825, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Ramírez, Carlos D., 2009. "Bank fragility, "money under the mattress", and long-run growth: US evidence from the "perfect" Panic of 1893," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 33(12), pages 2185-2198, December.
  4. Imai, Masami, 2006. "Market discipline and deposit insurance reform in Japan," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 30(12), pages 3433-3452, December.
  5. Masami Imai, 2006. "Market Discipline and Deposit Insurance Reform in Japan," Wesleyan Economics Working Papers 2006-007, Wesleyan University, Department of Economics.

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