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From Drafts to Checks: The Evolution of Correspondent Banking Networks and the Formation of the Modern U.S. Payments System, 1850-1914

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  • JOHN A. JAMES
  • DAVID F. WEIMAN

Abstract

Checks remained local payments instruments throughout virtually the entire nineteenth century. Their significant use in interregional transactions dates only to the 1890s. We explain their lagged spatial diffusion by the evolution of centralized payments institutions to coordinate transactions among myriad banks, not real technological changes to "annihilate" distance. The pivotal institutions were large correspondent banks, especially in New York. After the Civil War, New York funds constituted a national settlement medium, and the concentration of bankers' balances in New York yielded liquidity and other externalities smoothing the flow of check payments. Copyright (c) 2010 The Ohio State University.

Suggested Citation

  • John A. James & David F. Weiman, 2010. "From Drafts to Checks: The Evolution of Correspondent Banking Networks and the Formation of the Modern U.S. Payments System, 1850-1914," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 42(2-3), pages 237-265, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:mcb:jmoncb:v:42:y:2010:i:2-3:p:237-265
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    Cited by:

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    3. Haelim Anderson & Charles W. Calomiris & Matthew Jaremski & Gary Richardson, 2018. "Liquidity Risk, Bank Networks, and the Value of Joining the Federal Reserve System," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 50(1), pages 173-201, February.
    4. Tallman, Ellis W. & Moen, Jon R., 2012. "Liquidity creation without a central bank: Clearing house loan certificates in the banking panic of 1907," Journal of Financial Stability, Elsevier, vol. 8(4), pages 277-291.
    5. Sanjiv R. Das & Kris James Mitchener & Angela Vossmeyer, 2018. "Systemic Risk and the Great Depression," NBER Working Papers 25405, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Jaremski, Matthew & Wheelock, David C., 2020. "The Founding of the Federal Reserve, the Great Depression, and the Evolution of the U.S. Interbank Network," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 80(1), pages 69-99, March.
    7. Mark Carlson & David C. Wheelock, 2018. "Did the Founding of the Federal Reserve Affect the Vulnerability of the Interbank System to Contagion Risk?," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 50(8), pages 1711-1750, December.
    8. Livio Di Matteo & Angela Redish, 2015. "The evolution of financial intermediation: Evidence from 19th‐century Ontario microdata," Canadian Journal of Economics/Revue canadienne d'économique, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 48(3), pages 963-987, August.
    9. Javier Mejia, 2018. "Social Interactions and Modern Economic Growth," Working Papers 20180021, New York University Abu Dhabi, Department of Social Science, revised Sep 2018.
    10. Javier Mejia, 2018. "Social Networks and Entrepreneurship. Evidence from a Historical Episode of Industrialization," Documentos CEDE 016380, Universidad de los Andes - CEDE.
    11. Vincent Bignon & Régis Breton & Mariana Rojas Breu, 2019. "Currency Union With Or Without Banking Union," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 60(2), pages 965-1003, May.
    12. Calomiris, Charles W. & Carlson, Mark, 2017. "Interbank networks in the National Banking Era: Their purpose and their role in the Panic of 1893," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 125(3), pages 434-453.
    13. Gary Gorton & Ellis W. Tallman, 2016. "How Did Pre-Fed Banking Panics End?," Working Papers (Old Series) 1603, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
    14. Jaremski, Matthew & Mathy, Gabrial, 2017. "Looking Back On the Age of Checking in America, 1800-1960," MPRA Paper 78083, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    15. Chang, Howard H. & Danilevsky, Marina & Evans, David S. & Garcia-Swartz, Daniel D., 2008. "The economics of market coordination for the pre-Fed check-clearing system: A peek into the Bloomington (IL) node," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 45(4), pages 445-461, September.
    16. Régis Breton & Mariana Rojas Breu & Vincent Bignon, 2013. "Monetary Union, Banks and Financial Integration," Post-Print hal-01685888, HAL.
    17. David C. Wheelock, 2015. "Economics and Politics in Selecting Federal Reserve Cities: Why Missouri Has Two Reserve Banks," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, vol. 97(4), pages 269-288.
    18. Bignon, V. & Breton, R. & Rojas Breu, M., 2013. "Currency Union with and without Banking Union," Working papers 450, Banque de France.
    19. Sanjiv R. Das & Kris James Mitchener & Angela Vossmeyer, 2018. "Systemic Risk and the Great Depression," CESifo Working Paper Series 7425, CESifo.
    20. Matthew Jaremski & David C. Wheelock, 2015. "Banker Preferences, Interbank Connections, and the Enduring Structure of the Federal Reserve System," Working Papers 2015-11, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
    21. Christopher Hoag, 2015. "Clearinghouse Loan Certificates as Interbank Loans," Working Papers 1504, Trinity College, Department of Economics, revised Jun 2015.
    22. Das, Sanjiv & Mitchener, Kris James & Vossmeyer, Angela, 2018. "Systemic Risk and the Great Depression," CEPR Discussion Papers 13416, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    23. Peter L. Rousseau, 2010. "The Market for Bank Stocks and the Rise of Deposit Banking in New York City, 1866-1897," NBER Working Papers 15770, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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