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Flight-to-safety and the Credit Crunch: A new history of the banking crisis in France during the Great Depression

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  • Monnet, Eric
  • Baubeau, Patrice
  • Riva, Angelo
  • Ungaro, Stefano

Abstract

Despite France's importance in the interwar world economy, the scale and consequences of the French banking crises of 1930–1931 were never assessed quantitatively due to lack of data in the absence of banking regulation. Using a new dataset of individual balance sheets from more than 400 banks, we show that the crisis was more severe and occurred earlier than previously thought, and it was very asymmetric, without affecting main commercial banks. The primary transmission channel was a flight-to-safety of deposits from banks to savings institutions and the central bank, leading to a major, persistent disruption in business lending. In line with the gold standard mentality, cash deposited with savings institutions and the central bank was used to decrease marketable public debt and increase gold reserves, rather than pursue countercyclical policies. Despite massive capital inflows, France suffered from a severe, persistent credit crunch.

Suggested Citation

  • Monnet, Eric & Baubeau, Patrice & Riva, Angelo & Ungaro, Stefano, 2018. "Flight-to-safety and the Credit Crunch: A new history of the banking crisis in France during the Great Depression," CEPR Discussion Papers 13287, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:13287
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    5. Kovács, György & Bartók, László, 2022. "A második világháborút követő gazdasági paradigmaváltáshoz vezető út Franciaországban [Road to the economic paradigm shift in France after World War II]," Közgazdasági Szemle (Economic Review - monthly of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences), Közgazdasági Szemle Alapítvány (Economic Review Foundation), vol. 0(12), pages 1577-1596.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Great depression; Flight-to-safety; France; Banking panics; Savings banks; Gold standard;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • N14 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - Europe: 1913-
    • N24 - Economic History - - Financial Markets and Institutions - - - Europe: 1913-
    • G01 - Financial Economics - - General - - - Financial Crises
    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
    • G23 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Non-bank Financial Institutions; Financial Instruments; Institutional Investors
    • G33 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Bankruptcy; Liquidation
    • E44 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Financial Markets and the Macroeconomy
    • E51 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Money Supply; Credit; Money Multipliers
    • E58 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Central Banks and Their Policies

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