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The cost of banking panics in an age before “Too Big to Fail”

  • Ben Chabot
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    How costly were the banking panics of the National Banking Era (1861-1913)? I combine two hand-collected data sets - the weekly statements of the New York Clearing House banks and the monthly holding period return of every stock listed on the NYSE - to estimate the cost of banking panics in an era before “too big to fail.” The bank statements allow me to construct a hypothetical insurance contract which would have allowed investors to insure against sudden deposit withdrawals and the cross-section of stock returns allow us to draw inferences about the marginal utility during panic states. Panics were costly. The cross-section of gilded-age stock returns imply investors would have willingly paid a 14% annual premium above actuarial fair value to insure $100 against unexpected deposit withdrawals The implied consumption of stock investors suggests that the consumption loss associated with National Banking Era bank runs was far more costly than the consumption loss from stock market crashes.

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    Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago in its series Working Paper Series with number WP-2011-15.

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    Date of creation: 2011
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    Handle: RePEc:fip:fedhwp:wp-2011-15
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    1. Lars Peter Hansen & Ravi Jagannathan, 1994. "Assessing Specification Errors in Stochastic Discount Factor Models," NBER Technical Working Papers 0153, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Sandro Brusco & Fabio Castiglionesi, 2005. "Liquidity Coinsurance, Moral Hazard and Financial Contagion," Department of Economics Working Papers 05-12, Stony Brook University, Department of Economics.
    3. 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.
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