Suspension of payments, bank failures, and the nonbank public's losses
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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- 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.
- Gary Gorton & Lixin Huang, 2002. "Bank Panics and the Endogeneity of Central Banking," Center for Financial Institutions Working Papers 02-29, Wharton School Center for Financial Institutions, University of Pennsylvania.
- Gary Gorton & Lixin Huang, 2002. "Bank Panics and the Endogeneity of Central Banking," NBER Working Papers 9102, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Poirier, Dale J., 1980. "Partial observability in bivariate probit models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 12(2), pages 209-217, February.
- Selgin, G., 1993. "In Defence of Bank Suspension," Papers 367, Georgia - College of Business Administration, Department of Economics.
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- 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, 08.
- Gorton, Gary, 1996. "Reputation Formation in Early Bank Note Markets," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(2), pages 346-97, April.
- Meng, Chun-Lo & Schmidt, Peter, 1985. "On the Cost of Partial Observability in the Bivariate Probit Model," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 26(1), pages 71-85, February.
- Neil Wallace, 1990. "A banking model in which partial suspension is best," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Fall, pages 11-23.
- 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 271-88, May.
- Economopoulos, Andrew J, 1988. "Illinois Free Banking Experience," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 20(2), pages 249-64, May.
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