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The joint production of confidence: lessons from nineteenth-century US commercial banks for twenty-first-century Euro area governments


  • Winkler, Adalbert


This article argues that the crisis in euro area government bond markets reflects the same kind of stability challenges financial intermediaries face when confronted with a negative macroeconomic shock without having access to a lender of last resort. Nineteenth-century US banks operated under such a framework and used clearing houses in times of crisis as a co-insurance mechanism against contagious runs. Their experience provides valuable lessons for the ongoing reform efforts in the euro area. The analysis reveals that most of the instruments clearing houses used in the joint production of confidence are similar to the ones euro area governments have recently decided upon, such as the establishment of the European Financial Stability Facility. This suggests that the euro area crisis response has followed best private-sector practices of crisis management. However, inherent fragilities of co-insurance mechanisms as well as the long maturity and elusive quality of government debt present a challenge in designing a sustainable solution to the crisis without compromising on the original goal of euro area governance: ensuring sound fiscal policies as a prerequisite for maintaining price stability. To meet this challenge a substantially more comprehensive economic and political union might be needed.

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  • Winkler, Adalbert, 2011. "The joint production of confidence: lessons from nineteenth-century US commercial banks for twenty-first-century Euro area governments," Financial History Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 18(03), pages 249-276, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:fihrev:v:18:y:2011:i:03:p:249-276_00

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Ang, Andrew & Longstaff, Francis A., 2013. "Systemic sovereign credit risk: Lessons from the U.S. and Europe," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(5), pages 493-510.
    2. Winkler, Adalbert, 2013. "Der lender of last resort vor Gericht," Frankfurt School - Working Paper Series 206, Frankfurt School of Finance and Management.
    3. Paul De Grauwe, 2012. "A Fragile Eurozone in Search of a Better Governance," The Economic and Social Review, Economic and Social Studies, vol. 43(1), pages 1-30.
    4. Bindseil, Ulrich & Winkler, Adalbert, 2012. "Dual liquidity crises under alternative monetary frameworks: a financial accounts perspective," Working Paper Series 1478, European Central Bank.
    5. Winkler, Adalbert & Bindseil, Ulrich, 2012. "Dual liquidity crises under alternative monetary frameworks," Annual Conference 2012 (Goettingen): New Approaches and Challenges for the Labor Market of the 21st Century 62032, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    6. Foley-Fisher, Nathan & McLaughlin, Eoin, 2016. "Sovereign debt guarantees and default: Lessons from the UK and Ireland, 1920–1938," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 87(C), pages 272-286.
    7. Winkler, Adalbert, 2014. "The lender of last resort in court," Frankfurt School - Working Paper Series 207, Frankfurt School of Finance and Management.

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