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Banking crises and the international monetary system in the Great Depression and now

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  • Richhild Moessner
  • William A Allen

Abstract

We compare the banking crises in 2008-09 and in the Great Depression, and analyse differences in the policy response to the two crises in light of the prevailing international monetary systems. The scale of the 2008-09 banking crisis, as measured by falls in international short-term indebtedness and total bank deposits, was smaller than that of 1931. However, central bank liquidity provision was larger in 2008-09 than in 1931, when it had been constrained in many countries by the gold standard. Liquidity shortages destroyed the international monetary system in 1931. By contrast, central bank liquidity could be, and was, provided much more freely in the flexible exchange rate environment of 2008-9. The amount of liquidity provided was 5 ½ - 7 ½ times as much as in 1931. This forestalled a general loss of confidence in the banking system. Drawing on historical experience, central banks, led by the Federal Reserve, established swap facilities quickly and flexibly to provide international liquidity, in some cases setting no upper limit to the amount that could be borrowed.

Suggested Citation

  • Richhild Moessner & William A Allen, 2010. "Banking crises and the international monetary system in the Great Depression and now," BIS Working Papers 333, Bank for International Settlements.
  • Handle: RePEc:bis:biswps:333
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Dietrich Domanski & Richhild Moessner & William R. Nelson, 2014. "Central banks as lender of last resort: experiences during the 2007-2010 crisis and lessons for the future," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2014-110, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    2. Elena Seghezza, 2018. "Can swap line arrangements help solve the Triffin dilemma? How?," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 41(10), pages 2691-2708, October.
    3. Ciobanu (Sireteanu) Elena, 2011. "The Impact Of The Financial And Economic Global Crisis Over The Romanian Banking System," Annals of Faculty of Economics, University of Oradea, Faculty of Economics, vol. 1(2), pages 406-412, December.
    4. Bindseil, Ulrich & Winkler, Adalbert, 2012. "Dual liquidity crises under alternative monetary frameworks: a financial accounts perspective," Working Paper Series 1478, European Central Bank.
    5. Cristina Peicuti, 2014. "The Great Depression and the Great Recession: A Comparative Analysis of their Analogies," European Journal of Comparative Economics, Cattaneo University (LIUC), vol. 11(1), pages 55-78, June.
    6. Alexander Smirnov, 2016. "A Simple Model of Credit Expansion," Papers 1609.05055, arXiv.org.
    7. Winkler, Adalbert & Bindseil, Ulrich, 2012. "Dual liquidity crises under alternative monetary frameworks," VfS Annual Conference 2012 (Goettingen): New Approaches and Challenges for the Labor Market of the 21st Century 62032, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    8. Dietrich Domanski & Richhild Moessner & William Nelson, 2014. "Central banks as lenders of last resort: experiences during the 2007-10 crisis and lessons for the future," BIS Papers chapters, in: Bank for International Settlements (ed.), Re-thinking the lender of last resort, volume 79, pages 43-75, Bank for International Settlements.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    banking crisis; international monetary system; Great Depression; central bank liquidity;
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