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Member Bank Borrowing and the Fed's Contractionary Monetary Policy during the Great Depression


  • Wheelock, David C


This paper examines the causes of Federal Reserve policy errors during the Great Depression. It finds compelling evidence that the Fed developed a flawed strategy during the 1920s, and continued to use that strategy during the depression. The Fed's strategy relied on the behavior of member bank borrowing and interest rates as policy indicators. A detailed empirical examination of borrowed reserve demand reveals the errors in the Fed's strategy and helps to explain why the Fed did not undertake vigorous countercyclical policy during the depression. Copyright 1990 by Ohio State University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Wheelock, David C, 1990. "Member Bank Borrowing and the Fed's Contractionary Monetary Policy during the Great Depression," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 22(4), pages 409-426, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:mcb:jmoncb:v:22:y:1990:i:4:p:409-26

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    9. Nickell, Stephen J, 1990. "Unemployment: A Survey," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 100(401), pages 391-439, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Michael D. Bordo & David C. Wheelock, 2010. "The promise and performance of the Federal Reserve as lender of last resort 1914-1933," Working Papers 2010-036, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
    2. White, Eugene N., 1996. "The past and future of economic history in economics," The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 36(Supplemen), pages 61-72.
    3. Chang-Tai Hsieh & Christina D. Romer, 2001. "Was the Federal Reserve Fettered? Devaluation Expectations in the 1932 Monetary Expansion," NBER Working Papers 8113, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Gabriel P. Mathy & Matthew Jaremski, 2016. "How Was the Quantitative Easing Program of the 1930s Unwound?," Working Papers 2016-01, American University, Department of Economics.
    5. Gary Gorton & Andrew Metrick, 2013. "The Federal Reserve and Panic Prevention: The Roles of Financial Regulation and Lender of Last Resort," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 27(4), pages 45-64, Fall.
    6. Taylor, Jason E. & Neumann, Todd C., 2013. "The effect of institutional regime change within the new deal on industrial output and labor markets," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 50(4), pages 582-598.
    7. Charles W. Calomiris & Christopher Hanes, 1994. "Historical Macroeconomics and American Macroeconomic History," NBER Working Papers 4935, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Damette, Olivier & Parent, Antoine, 2016. "Did the Fed follow an implicit McCallum rule during the Great Depression?," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 52(PA), pages 226-232.
    9. Tallman, Ellis W. & Jacobson, Margaret M., 2015. "The Federal Reserve System and World War I: Designing Policies without Precedent," Working Paper 1510, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
    10. Gary Richardson, 2006. "Bank Distress During the Great Contraction, 1929 to 1933, New Data from the Archives of the Board of Governors," NBER Working Papers 12590, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Anbil, Sriya & Vossmeyer, Angela, 2017. "Liquidity from Two Lending Facilities," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2017-117, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    12. Postel-Vinay, Natacha, 2011. "From a “normal recession” to the “Great Depression”: finding the turning point in Chicago bank portfolios, 1923-1933," Economic History Working Papers 35518, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.

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