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The credibility of exchange rate pegs and bank distress in historical perspective: lessons from the national banking era

  • Scott Fulford
  • Felipe Schwartzman

We examine a period during the prevalence of the gold standard in the United States to provide evidence that speculation about a currency peg can have damaging effects on bank balance sheets. In particular, the defeat of the pro-silver candidate in the 1896 presidential election was associated with a large and permanent increase in bank leverage, with the initial impact most pronounced among states where banks held more specie in proportion to their assets and were, therefore, also more committed to paying out deposits in specie. Based on the cross-sectional pattern of changes in leverage observed in 1896, we construct a measure of the credibility of the gold standard spanning the entire sample period. Changes in this measure correlate with changes in aggregate bank leverage, suggesting that uncertainty about the monetary standard played an important role in the 1893 banking panic and its aftermath.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond in its series Working Paper with number 13-18.

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Date of creation: 2013
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedrwp:13-18
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  1. Reinhart, Carmen & Calvo, Guillermo, 2002. "Fear of floating," MPRA Paper 14000, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  2. Grilli, Vittorio, 1990. "Managing exchange rate crises: evidence from the 1890s," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 9(3), pages 258-275, September.
  3. Banerjee, Abhijit & Bacchetta, Philippe & Aghion, Philippe, 2001. "Currency Crises and Monetary Policy in an Economy with Credit Constraints," Scholarly Articles 4554218, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  4. Ricardo Caballero & Arvind Krishnamurthy, 2000. "International and Domestic Collateral Constraints in a Model of Emerging Market Crises," NBER Working Papers 7971, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Ramírez, Carlos D., 2009. "Bank fragility, "money under the mattress", and long-run growth: US evidence from the "perfect" Panic of 1893," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 33(12), pages 2185-2198, December.
  6. Milton Friedman & Anna J. Schwartz, 1963. "A Monetary History of the United States, 1867-1960," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number frie63-1.
  7. David Cook & Woon Gyu Choi, 2002. "Liability Dollarization and the Bank Balance Sheet Channel," IMF Working Papers 02/141, International Monetary Fund.
  8. Frieden, Jeffry A., 1997. "Monetary Populism in Nineteenth-Century America: An Open Economy Interpretation," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 57(02), pages 367-395, June.
  9. Carlson, Mark, 2005. "Causes of bank suspensions in the panic of 1893," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 56-80, January.
  10. Jeanne, Olivier, 1999. "Currency Crises: A Perspective on Recent Theoretical Developments," CEPR Discussion Papers 2170, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  11. Pratap, Sangeeta & Lobato, Ignacio & Somuano, Alejandro, 2003. "Debt composition and balance sheet effects of exchange rate volatility in Mexico: a firm level analysis," Emerging Markets Review, Elsevier, vol. 4(4), pages 450-471, December.
  12. Kevin Cowan & Erwin Hansen & Luis Oscar Herrera, 2005. "Currency Mismatches, Balance-Sheet Effects and Hedging in Chilean Non-Financial Corporations," Research Department Publications 4387, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
  13. Galindo, Arturo & Panizza, Ugo & Schiantarelli, Fabio, 2003. "Debt composition and balance sheet effects of currency depreciation: a summary of the micro evidence," Emerging Markets Review, Elsevier, vol. 4(4), pages 330-339, December.
  14. James, John A, 1976. "Banking Market Structure, Risk, and the Pattern of Local Interest Rates in the United States, 1893-1911," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 58(4), pages 453-62, November.
  15. Gorton, Gary, 1988. "Banking Panics and Business Cycles," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 40(4), pages 751-81, December.
  16. Brandon R. Dupont, 2009. "Panic in the plains: agricultural markets and the panic of 1893," Cliometrica, Journal of Historical Economics and Econometric History, Association Française de Cliométrie (AFC), vol. 3(1), pages 27-54, January.
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