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Are Branch Banks Better Survivors? Evidence from the Depression Era

  • Mark Carlson

It is widely argued in the literature on the Great Depression that the prevalence of unit banks aggravated the problem of financial instability that afflicted the United States. This article tests the theory that more widespread branch banking would have reduced financial turbulence by examining the survival of individual branch and unit banks. Results indicate that instead of being more likely to survive, branch banks were more likely to fail. Further investigation suggests that this higher failure rate occurred because branch banks systematically held riskier portfolios than unit banks. (JEL G21, G28, N22) Copyright 2004, Oxford University Press.

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1093/ei/cbh048
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Article provided by Western Economic Association International in its journal Economic Inquiry.

Volume (Year): 42 (2004)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
Pages: 111-126

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Handle: RePEc:oup:ecinqu:v:42:y:2004:i:1:p:111-126
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  1. Miron, Jeffrey A, 1986. "Financial Panics, the Seasonality of the Nominal Interest Rate, and theFounding of the Fed," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(1), pages 125-40, March.
  2. Charles W. Calomiris & Joseph R. Mason, 2001. "Causes of U.S. bank distress during the depression," Proceedings 714, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  3. Coe, Patrick J, 2002. "Financial Crisis and the Great Depression: A Regime Switching Approach," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 34(1), pages 76-93, February.
  4. Joseph P. Hughes & Choon-Geol Moon, 1997. "Efficient Banking Under Interstate Branching," Departmental Working Papers 199609, Rutgers University, Department of Economics.
  5. David C. Wheelock, 1995. "Regulation, market structure and the bank failures of the Great Depression," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Mar, pages 27-38.
  6. Grossman, Richard S., 1994. "The Shoe That Didn't Drop: Explaining Banking Stability During the Great Depression," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 54(03), pages 654-682, September.
  7. Rebecca S. Demsetz & Philip E. Strahan, 1995. "Historical patterns and recent changes in the relationship between bank holding company size and risk," Economic Policy Review, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, issue Jul, pages 13-26.
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