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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 country. This paper tests the theory that more widespread branch banking would have reduced financial turbulence in the United States 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.

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File URL: http://www.federalreserve.gov/pubs/feds/2001/200151/200151abs.html
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File URL: http://www.federalreserve.gov/pubs/feds/2001/200151/200151pap.pdf
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Paper provided by Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.) in its series Finance and Economics Discussion Series with number 2001-51.

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Date of creation: 2001
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:2001-51
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  1. Charles W. Calomiris & Joseph R. Mason, 2001. "Causes of U.S. bank distress during the depression," Proceedings 714, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  2. 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.
  3. Hughes, Joseph P, et al, 1996. "Efficient Banking under Interstate Branching," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 28(4), pages 1045-71, November.
  4. 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.
  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. 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.
  7. 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.
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