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Did Doubling Reserve Requirements Cause the Recession of 1937-1938? A Microeconomic Approach

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  • Calomiris, Charles W.

    (Columbia University)

  • Mason, Joseph R.

    (LA State University)

  • Wheelock, David C.

    (Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis)

Abstract

In 1936-37, the Federal Reserve doubled the reserve requirements imposed on member banks. Ever since, the question of whether the doubling of reserve requirements increased reserve demand and produced a contraction of money and credit, and thereby helped to cause the recession of 1937-1938, has been a matter of controversy. Using microeconomic data to gauge the fundamental reserve demands of Fed member banks, we find that despite being doubled, reserve requirements were not binding on bank reserve demand in 1936 and 1937, and therefore could not have produced a significant contraction in the money multiplier. To the extent that increases in reserve demand occurred from 1935 to 1937, they reflected fundamental changes in the determinants of reserve demand and not changes in reserve requirements.

Suggested Citation

  • Calomiris, Charles W. & Mason, Joseph R. & Wheelock, David C., 2011. "Did Doubling Reserve Requirements Cause the Recession of 1937-1938? A Microeconomic Approach," Working Papers 11-03, University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School, Weiss Center.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecl:upafin:11-03
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Liquidity Regulation is Back
      by Steve Cecchetti and Kim Schoenholtz in Money, Banking and Financial Markets on 2018-04-02 11:29:18

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    Cited by:

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    2. Calomiris, Charles W. & Carlson, Mark, 2016. "Corporate governance and risk management at unprotected banks: National banks in the 1890s," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 119(3), pages 512-532.
    3. Tatom, John A., 2014. "U.S. monetary policy in disarray," Journal of Financial Stability, Elsevier, vol. 12(C), pages 47-58.
    4. Chang, Su-Hsin & Contessi, Silvio & Francis, Johanna L., 2014. "Understanding the accumulation of bank and thrift reserves during the U.S. financial crisis," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 78-106.
    5. Jon Cohen & Kinda Hachem & Gary Richardson, 2021. "Relationship Lending and the Great Depression," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 103(3), pages 505-520, July.
    6. Haelim Park & Patrick Van Horn, 2015. "Did the Reserve Requirement Increases of 1936–37 Reduce Bank Lending? Evidence from a Quasi‐Experiment," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 47(5), pages 791-818, August.
    7. Gabriel P. Mathy, 2014. "Uncertainty Shocks and Equity Return Jumps and Volatility During the Great Depression," Working Papers 2014-02, American University, Department of Economics.
    8. Jaremski, Matthew & Mathy, Gabriel, 2018. "How was the quantitative easing program of the 1930s Unwound?," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 69(C), pages 27-49.
    9. Douglas A. Irwin, 2011. "Gold Sterilization and the Recession of 1937-38," NBER Working Papers 17595, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Tsvetomira Tsenova, 2014. "International monetary transmission with bank heterogeneity and default risk," Annals of Finance, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 217-241, May.
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    14. Pavon-Prado, David, 2022. "The cost of excess reserves and inflation in the United States during the last century," MPRA Paper 112797, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • 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
    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
    • G28 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Government Policy and Regulation
    • N12 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-
    • N22 - Economic History - - Financial Markets and Institutions - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-

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