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Resolving the national bank note paradox

Author

Listed:
  • Bruce A. Champ
  • Neil Wallace
  • Warren E. Weber

Abstract

During the 1882_1914 period, U.S. national banks could issue circulating notes backed by specified government securities. Earlier attempts to explain yields on those securities by costs of note issue discovered a paradox: yields were too high. We point out two previously ignored sources of costs: idle notes and note redemptions that were highly variable, thereby exacerbating the problem of managing reserves. We present data on idle notes and estimate, from partial data on redemptions, the uncertainty due to redemptions. We also present a semiannual time series of an upper bound on the average additional return on equity a national bank would earn by fully using its note issue privilege. Since the median of this series is 0.5 percent and since this upper bound does not include the average costs stemming from the exacerbated reserve management problem, we conclude that the specified government securities did not have paradoxically high yields.

Suggested Citation

  • Bruce A. Champ & Neil Wallace & Warren E. Weber, 1992. "Resolving the national bank note paradox," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Spr, pages 13-21.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedmqr:y:1992:i:spr:p:13-21:n:v.16no.2
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Cagan, Phillip & Schwartz, Anna J, 1991. "The National Bank Note Puzzle Reinterpreted," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 23(3), pages 293-307, August.
    2. James, John A, 1976. "The Conundrum of the Low Issue of National Bank Notes," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 84(2), pages 359-367, April.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Calomiris, Charles W. & Mason, Joseph R., 2008. "Resolving the puzzle of the underissuance of national bank notes," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 45(4), pages 327-355, September.
    2. Antoine Martin & Cyril Monnet & Warren E. Weber, 2000. "Costly banknote issuance and interest rates under the national banking system," Working Papers 601, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
    3. Eugene N. White, 2011. ""To Establish a More Effective Supervision of Banking": How the Birth of the Fed Altered Bank Supervision," NBER Working Papers 16825, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Charles W. Calomiris, 1992. "Greenback Resumption and Silver Risk: The Economics and Politics of Monetary Regime Change in the United States, 1862-1900," NBER Working Papers 4166, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Jaremski, Matthew & Rousseau, Peter L., 2018. "The dawn of an ‘age of deposits’ in the United States," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 87(C), pages 264-281.

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    Keywords

    Banks and banking - History;

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