IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

The Federal Reserve and Panic Prevention: The Roles of Financial Regulation and Lender of Last Resort

  • Gary Gorton
  • Andrew Metrick

This paper surveys the role of the Federal Reserve within the financial regulatory system, with particular attention to the interaction of the Fed's role as both a supervisor and a lender-of-last-resort. The institutional design of the Federal Reserve System was aimed at preventing banking panics, primarily due to the permanent presence of the discount window. This new system was successful at preventing a panic in the early 1920s, after which the Fed began to discourage the use of the discount window and intentionally create "stigma" for window borrowing -- policies that contributed to the panics of the Great Depression. The legislation of the New Deal era centralized Fed power in the Board of Governors, and over the next 75 years the Fed expanded its role as a supervisor of the largest banks. Nevertheless, prior to the recent crisis the Fed had large gaps in its authority as a supervisor and as lender of last resort, with the latter role weakened further by stigma. The Fed was unable to prevent the recent crisis, during which its lender of last resort function expanded significantly. As the Fed begins its second century, there are still great challenges to fulfilling its original intention of panic prevention.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal Journal of Economic Perspectives.

Volume (Year): 27 (2013)
Issue (Month): 4 (Fall)
Pages: 45-64

in new window

Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:27:y:2013:i:4:p:45-64
Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.27.4.45
Contact details of provider: Web page:

More information through EDIRC

Order Information: Web:

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Clark, Truman A, 1986. "Interest Rate Seasonals and the Federal Reserve," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(1), pages 76-125, February.
  2. Butkiewicz James L., 1995. "The Impact of a Lender of Last Resort during the Great Depression: The Case of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 197-216, April.
  3. Gorton, Gary & Huang, Lixin, 2006. "Bank panics and the endogeneity of central banking," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(7), pages 1613-1629, October.
  4. Gary Gorton & Andrew Metrick, 2009. "Securitized Banking and the Run on Repo," Yale School of Management Working Papers amz2358, Yale School of Management, revised 01 Sep 2009.
  5. Michael J. Fleming & Warren B. Hrung & Frank M. Keane, 2010. "Repo Market Effects of the Term Securities Lending Facility," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(2), pages 591-96, May.
  6. Gorton, Gary, 1985. "Clearinghouses and the Origin of Central Banking in the United States," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 45(02), pages 277-283, June.
  7. Wheelock, David C, 1990. "Member Bank Borrowing and the Fed's Contractionary Monetary Policy during the Great Depression," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 22(4), pages 409-26, November.
  8. Wicker,Elmus, 1996. "The Banking Panics of the Great Depression," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521562614, October.
  9. Anat Admati & Martin Hellwig, 2013. "The Bankers' New Clothes: What's Wrong with Banking and What to Do about It," Economics Books, Princeton University Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 9929.
  10. Timberlake, Richard H, Jr, 1984. "The Central Banking Role of Clearinghouse Associations," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 16(1), pages 1-15, February.
  11. Alston Lee J. & Grove Wayne A. & Wheelock David C., 1994. "Why Do Banks Fail? Evidence from the 1920s," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 409-431, October.
  12. Warren B. Hrung & Jason S. Seligman, 2011. "Responses to the financial crisis, treasury debt, and the impact on short-term money markets," Staff Reports 481, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  13. Gary Gorton & Andrew Metrick, 2010. "Regulating the Shadow Banking System," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 41(2 (Fall)), pages 261-312.
  14. Wicker, Elmus, 1980. "A Reconsideration of the Causes of the Banking Panic of 1930," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 40(03), pages 571-583, September.
  15. Michael D. Bordo & David C. Wheelock, 2011. "The promise and performance of the Federal Reserve as Lender of Last Resort 1914-1933," Working Paper 2011/01, Norges Bank.
  16. Adam B. Ashcraft & Morten L. Bech & W. Scott Frame, 2008. "The Federal Home Loan Bank System: the lender of next-to-last resort?," Staff Reports 357, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  17. Milton Friedman & Anna J. Schwartz, 1963. "A Monetary History of the United States, 1867–1960," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number frie63-1, December.
  18. James L. Butkiewicz, 1999. "The Reconstruction Finance Corporation, the Gold Standard, and the Banking Panic of 1933," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 66(2), pages 271-293, October.
  19. Fishe, Raymond P H & Wohar, Mark, 1990. "The Adjustment of Expectations to a Change in Regime: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(4), pages 968-76, September.
  20. Walker F. Todd, 1992. "History of and rationales for the Reconstruction Finance Corporation," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, issue Q IV, pages 22-35.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:27:y:2013:i:4:p:45-64. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Jane Voros)

or (Michael P. Albert)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.