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Suspension of payments, bank failures, and the nonbank public's losses


  • Dwyer, Gerald Jr.
  • Hasan, Iftekhar


Arguably, eliminating suspensions of payments--periods when banks jointly refuse to convert their liabilities into outside money or other assets--was an important impetus for creating the Federal Reserve. Friedman and Schwartz suggest that a suspension in 1930 would have decreased the severity of the Great Depression. More recently, an emerging literature suggests that suspensions of payments may well be optimal in some states of the world. We present evidence about suspensions of payments from an episode that is close to a controlled experiment for examining their effects. In 1861, about 44 percent of the banks in Wisconsin closed, 81 percent of the banks in Illinois closed, and noteholders suffered substantial losses. The historical record suggests a possible explanation: an effective suspension of payments in Wisconsin but not Illinois. Historical and statistical evidence indicate that the suspension of payments decreased the number of banks that closed as well as noteholders' losses. Our statistical evidence indicates a 25 percent increase in the probability that an average bank in the two states remains open with the suspension of payments. The suspension of payments decreases noteholders' losses by about 20 cents per dollar of notes.
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  • Dwyer, Gerald Jr. & Hasan, Iftekhar, 2007. "Suspension of payments, bank failures, and the nonbank public's losses," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(2), pages 565-580, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:moneco:v:54:y:2007:i:2:p:565-580

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    2. 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.
    3. Selgin, G., 1993. "In Defence of Bank Suspension," Papers 367, Georgia - College of Business Administration, Department of Economics.
    4. 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, January.
    5. Economopoulos, Andrew J, 1988. "Illinois Free Banking Experience," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 20(2), pages 249-264, May.
    6. 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.
    7. Hasan, Iftekhar & Dwyer, Gerald P, Jr, 1994. "Bank Runs in the Free Banking Period," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 26(2), pages 271-288, May.
    8. Poirier, Dale J., 1980. "Partial observability in bivariate probit models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 12(2), pages 209-217, February.
    9. Gorton, Gary, 1996. "Reputation Formation in Early Bank Note Markets," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(2), pages 346-397, April.
    10. Neil Wallace, 1990. "A banking model in which partial suspension is best," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Fall, pages 11-23.
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    Cited by:

    1. Matthew Jaremski & Peter L. Rousseau, 2013. "Banks, Free Banks, And U.S. Economic Growth," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 51(2), pages 1603-1621, April.
    2. Jeffery Gunther & Linda Hooks & Kenneth Robinson, 2000. "Adverse Selection and Competing Deposit Insurance Systems in Pre-Depression Texas," Journal of Financial Services Research, Springer;Western Finance Association, vol. 17(3), pages 237-258, September.
    3. Dwyer Jr., Gerald P. & Samartín, Margarita, 2009. "Why do banks promise to pay par on demand?," Journal of Financial Stability, Elsevier, vol. 5(2), pages 147-169, June.
    4. Huberto Ennis & Todd Keister, 2016. "Optimal banking contracts and financial fragility," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 61(2), pages 335-363, February.
    5. Chen, Yehning & Hasan, Iftekhar, 2006. "The transparency of the banking system and the efficiency of information-based bank runs," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 15(3), pages 307-331, July.
    6. Eduardo Levy Yeyati & Alain Ize & Miguel A. Kiguel, 2005. "Managing Systemic Liquidity Risk in Financially Dollarized Economies," IMF Working Papers 05/188, International Monetary Fund.
    7. Matthew Jaremski & Peter L. Rousseau, 2015. "The Dawn of an ‘Age of Deposits’ in the United States," NBER Working Papers 21503, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Gerald P. Dwyer & R. W. Hafer, 2001. "Bank failures in banking panics: Risky banks or road kill?," FRB Atlanta Working Paper 2001-13, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
    9. Alain Ize & Miguel Kiguel & Eduardo Levy Yeyati, 2005. "Managing Systemic Liquidity Risk in Financially Dollarized Economy," Business School Working Papers managsystrisk, Universidad Torcuato Di Tella.

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