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Private money creation and the Suffolk Banking System

  • Bruce D. Smith
  • Warren E. Weber

Many have argued that private provision of close currency substitutes may lead to large scale indeterminacies and excessive economic fluctuations. Others argue that money creation can be "left to the market." Adherents of this viewpoint often point to the Suffolk Banking System as an example of a well-functioning system of private money creation. We provide a framework for analyzing these notions, and for modeling the monetary consequences of the Suffolk System. This system resolves some, but not all indeterminacies. It also can raise steady state welfare, but may substantially enhance volatility. The model's predictions are consistent with historical evidence.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis in its series Working Papers with number 591.

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Date of creation: 1998
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:fip:fedmwp:591
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  1. Bruce Champ & Bruce D. Smith & Stephen D. Williamson, 1996. "Currency Elasticity and Banking Panics: Theory and Evidence," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 29(4), pages 828-64, November.
  2. Schreft, Stacey L & Smith, Bruce D, 1998. "The Effects of Open Market Operations in a Model of Intermediation and Growth," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 65(3), pages 519-50, July.
  3. Arthur J. Rolnick & Bruce D. Smith & Warren E. Weber, 1998. "Lessons from a laissez-faire payments system: the Suffolk Banking System (1825-58)," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Sum, pages 11-21.
  4. Charles W. Calomiris & Charles M. Kahn, 1996. "The efficiency of self-regulated payments systems: learning from the Suffolk System," Proceedings, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.), pages 766-803.
  5. Schreft, Stacey L. & Smith, Bruce D., 1997. "Money, Banking, and Capital Formation," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 73(1), pages 157-182, March.
  6. Neil Wallace, 1988. "Another attempt to explain an illiquid banking system: the Diamond and Dybvig model with sequential service taken seriously," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Fall, pages 3-16.
  7. Rolnick, Arthur J. & Weber, Warren E., 1988. "Explaining the demand for free bank notes," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 47-71, January.
  8. Thomas J. Sargent & Neil Wallace, 1983. "A model of commodity money," Staff Report 85, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  9. Douglas W. Diamond & Philip H. Dybvig, 2000. "Bank runs, deposit insurance, and liquidity," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Win, pages 14-23.
  10. Townsend, Robert M, 1987. "Economic Organization with Limited Communication," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(5), pages 954-71, December.
  11. Rockoff, Hugh, 1974. "The Free Banking Era: A Reexamination," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 6(2), pages 141-67, May.
  12. Azariadis, Costas & Smith, Bruce, 1998. "Financial Intermediation and Regime Switching in Business Cycles," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(3), pages 516-36, June.
  13. Arthur J. Rolnick & Warren E. Weber, 1988. "Explaining the demand for free bank notes," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Spr, pages 21-35.
  14. Lake, Wilfred S., 1947. "The End of the Suffolk System," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 7(02), pages 183-207, November.
  15. Rolnick, Arthur J. & Weber, Warren E., 1984. "The causes of free bank failures : A detailed examination," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(3), pages 267-291, November.
  16. Rolnick, Arthur J & Weber, Warren E, 1983. "New Evidence on the Free Banking Era," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(5), pages 1080-91, December.
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