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Fundamentals, Panics, and Bank Distress During the Depression


  • Charles W. Calomiris
  • Joseph R. Mason


We assemble bank-level and other data for Fed member banks to model determinants of bank failure. Fundamentals explain bank failure risk well. The first two Friedman-Schwartz crises are not associated with positive unexplained residual failure risk, or increased importance of bank illiquidity for forecasting failure. The third Friedman-Schwartz crisis is more ambiguous, but increased residual failure risk is small in the aggregate. The final crisis (early 1933) saw a large unexplained increase in bank failure risk. Local contagion and illiquidity may have played a role in pre-1933 bank failures, even though those effects were not large in their aggregate impact.

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  • Charles W. Calomiris & Joseph R. Mason, 2003. "Fundamentals, Panics, and Bank Distress During the Depression," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(5), pages 1615-1647, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:93:y:2003:i:5:p:1615-1647 Note: DOI: 10.1257/000282803322655473

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Charles W. Calomiris & Gary Gorton, 1991. "The Origins of Banking Panics: Models, Facts, and Bank Regulation," NBER Chapters,in: Financial Markets and Financial Crises, pages 109-174 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Charles W. Calomiris & Berry Wilson, 2004. "Bank Capital and Portfolio Management: The 1930s "Capital Crunch" and the Scramble to Shed Risk," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 77(3), pages 421-456, July.
    3. Mark Carlson, 2004. "Are Branch Banks Better Survivors? Evidence from the Depression Era," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 42(1), pages 111-126, January.
    4. Ben Bemanke & Harold James, 1991. "The Gold Standard, Deflation, and Financial Crisis in the Great Depression: An International Comparison," NBER Chapters,in: Financial Markets and Financial Crises, pages 33-68 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Franklin Allen & Douglas Gale, 1998. "Financial Contagion Journal of Political Economy," Center for Financial Institutions Working Papers 98-31, Wharton School Center for Financial Institutions, University of Pennsylvania.
    6. Ali Anari & James Kolari & Joseph Mason, 2002. "Bank Asset Liquidation and the Propagation of the U.S. Great Depression," Center for Financial Institutions Working Papers 02-35, Wharton School Center for Financial Institutions, University of Pennsylvania.
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