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The lender of last resort: lessons from the Fed’s first 100 years

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  • Mark A. Carlson
  • David C. Wheelock

Abstract

We review the responses of the Federal Reserve to financial crises over the past 100 years. The authors of the Federal Reserve Act in 1913 created an institution that they hoped would prevent banking panics from occurring. When this original framework did not prevent the banking panics of the 1930s, Congress amended the Act and gave the Federal Reserve considerably greater powers to respond to financial crises. Over the subsequent decades, the Federal Reserve responded more aggressively when it perceived that there were threats to financial stability and ultimately to economic activity. We review some notable episodes and show how they anticipated in several respects the Federal Reserve’s responses to the financial crisis in 2007-2009. We also discuss some of the lessons that can be learned from these responses and some of the challenges that face a lender of last resort.

Suggested Citation

  • Mark A. Carlson & David C. Wheelock, 2012. "The lender of last resort: lessons from the Fed’s first 100 years," Working Papers 2012-056, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedlwp:2012-056
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Michael D. Bordo, 2014. "Lessons learned for monetary policy from the recent crisis," mBank - CASE Seminar Proceedings 130, CASE-Center for Social and Economic Research.
    2. Douglas J. Elliott & Greg Feldberg & Andreas Lehnert, 2013. "The history of cyclical macroprudential policy in the United States," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2013-29, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    3. Michael D. Bordo, 2014. "Lessons learned for monetary policy from the recent crisis," CASE-CEU Working Papers 0130, CASE-Center for Social and Economic Research.
    4. Ben S. Bernanke, 2013. "A Century of US Central Banking: Goals, Frameworks, Accountability," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 27(4), pages 3-16, Fall.
    5. Bernanke, Ben S., 2013. "A Century of U.S. Central Banking: Goals, Frameworks, Accountability : a speech at the "The First 100 Years of the Federal Reserve: The Policy Record, Lessons Learned, and Prospects for the Futur," Speech 617, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    6. Pistor, Katharina, 2013. "A legal theory of finance," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(2), pages 315-330.

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    Keywords

    Federal Reserve banks ; Banks and banking; Central ; Discount window;

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