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Alternatives for distressed banks and the panics of the Great Depression

  • Mark Carlson

Several studies have explored whether the banking panics of the Great Depression caused some institutions to fail that might otherwise have survived. This paper adopts a different approach and investigates whether the panics resulted in the failure and liquidation of banks that might otherwise have been able to pursue a less disruptive resolution strategies such as merging with another institution or suspending operations and recapitalizing. Using data on individual state-chartered banks, I find that many of the banks that failed during the panics appear to have been at least as financially sound as banks that were able to use alternative resolution strategies. This result supports the idea that the disruptions caused by the banking panics may have exacerbated the economic downturn.

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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 2008-07.

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Date of creation: 2008
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:2008-07
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  1. Mark Carlson, 2004. "Are Branch Banks Better Survivors? Evidence from the Depression Era," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 42(1), pages 111-126, January.
  2. Ben S. Bernanke, 1983. "Non-Monetary Effects of the Financial Crisis in the Propagation of the Great Depression," NBER Working Papers 1054, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Mitchener, Kris James, 2005. "Bank Supervision, Regulation, and Instability During the Great Depression," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 65(01), pages 152-185, March.
  4. Douglas W. Diamond & Raghuram G. Rajan, 2002. "Liquidity Shortages and Banking Crises," NBER Working Papers 8937, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Mark Carlson & Kris James Mitchener, 2009. "Branch Banking as a Device for Discipline: Competition and Bank Survivorship during the Great Depression," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 117(2), pages 165-210, 04.
  6. Franklin Allen & Douglas Gale, 1999. "Financial Contagion," Levine's Working Paper Archive 2092, David K. Levine.
  7. Donaldson, R. Glen, 1992. "Costly liquidation, interbank trade, bank runs and panics," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 2(1), pages 59-82, March.
  8. Charles W. Calomiris & Gary Gorton, 1991. "The Origins of Banking Panics: Models, Facts, and Bank Regulation," NBER Chapters, in: Financial Markets and Financial Crises, pages 109-174 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Frederic S. Mishkin, 1990. "Asymmetric Information and Financial Crises: A Historical Perspective," NBER Working Papers 3400, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Anari, Ali & Kolari, James & Mason, Joseph, 2005. "Bank Asset Liquidation and the Propagation of the U.S. Great Depression," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 37(4), pages 753-73, August.
  11. Charles W. Calomiris & Joseph R. Mason, 2003. "Fundamentals, Panics, and Bank Distress During the Depression," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(5), pages 1615-1647, December.
  12. Gary Richardson, 2006. "Bank Distress during the Great Depression: The Illiquidity-Insolvency Debate Revisited," NBER Working Papers 12717, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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