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Banks, Free Banks, And U.S. Economic Growth


The "Federalist financial revolution" may have jump-started the U.S. economy into modern growth, but the Free Banking System (1837-1862) did not play a direct role in sustaining it. Despite lowering entry barriers and extending banking into developing regions, we find in county-level data that free banks had little or no effect on growth. The result is not just a symptom of the era, as state-chartered banks seem to have strong and positive effects on manufacturing and urbanization.

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Article provided by Western Economic Association International in its journal Economic Inquiry.

Volume (Year): 51 (2013)
Issue (Month): 2 (04)
Pages: 1603-1621

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Handle: RePEc:bla:ecinqu:v:51:y:2013:i:2:p:1603-1621
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  1. Howard Bodenhorn & David Cuberes, 2010. "Financial Development and City Growth: Evidence from Northeastern American Cities, 1790-1870," NBER Working Papers 15997, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Gerald P. Dwyer & Iftekhar Hasan, 1996. "Suspension of payments, bank failures, and the nonbank public's losses," FRB Atlanta Working Paper 96-3, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
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  5. Panicos O. Demetriades & Khaled A.Hussein, 1995. "Does Financial Development Cause Economic Growth? Time-Series Evidence from 16 Countries," Keele Department of Economics Discussion Papers (1995-2001) 95/13, Department of Economics, Keele University.
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  8. Rolnick, Arthur J. & Weber, Warren E., 1984. "The causes of free bank failures : A detailed examination," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(3), pages 267-291, November.
  9. King, Robert G. & Levine, Ross, 1993. "Finance and growth : Schumpeter might be right," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1083, The World Bank.
  10. Bodenhorn,Howard, 2000. "A History of Banking in Antebellum America," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521662857.
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  12. Rousseau, Peter L & Wachtel, Paul, 1998. "Financial Intermediation and Economic Performance: Historical Evidence from Five Industrialized Countries," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 30(4), pages 657-78, November.
  13. Matthew Jaremski, 2010. "Free Bank Failures: Risky Bonds versus Undiversified Portfolios," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 42(8), pages 1565-1587, December.
  14. Rockoff, Hugh, 1974. "The Free Banking Era: A Reexamination," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 6(2), pages 141-67, May.
  15. Rousseau, Peter L., 2002. "Jacksonian Monetary Policy, Specie Flows, And The Panic Of 1837," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 62(02), pages 457-488, June.
  16. Robert G. King & Ross Levine, 1993. "Finance and Growth: Schumpeter Might Be Right," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 108(3), pages 717-737.
  17. Scott Fulford, 2010. "How important are banks for development? National banks in the United States 1870–1900," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 753, Boston College Department of Economics, revised 15 Dec 2014.
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