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Where It All Began: Lending of Last Resort and the Bank of England during the Overend, Gurney Panic of 1866

The National Monetary Commission was deeply concerned with importing best practice. One important focus was the connection between the money market and international trade. It was said that Britain’s lead in the market for “acceptances” originating in international trade was the basis of its sterling predominance. In this article, we use a so-far unexplored source to document the portfolio of bills that was brought up to the Bank of England for discount and study the behavior of the Bank of England during the crisis of 1866 (the so-called Overend- Gurney panic) when the Bank began adopting lending of last resort policies (Bignon, Flandreau and Ugolini 2011). We compare 1865 (a “normal” year) to 1866. Important findings include: (a) the statistical predominance of foreign bills in the material brought to the Bank of England; (b) the correlation between the geography of bills and British trade patterns; (c) a marked contrast between normal times lending and crisis lending in that main financial intermediaries and the “shadow banking system” only showed up at the Bank’s window during crises; (d) the importance of money market investors (bills brokers) as chief conduit of liquidity provision in crisis; (e) the importance of Bank of England’s supervisory policies in ensuring lending-of-lastresort operations without enhancing moral hazard. An implication of our findings is that Bank of England’s ability to control moral hazard for financial intermediaries involved in acceptances was another reason for the rise of sterling as an international currency.

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Paper provided by Economics Section, The Graduate Institute of International Studies in its series IHEID Working Papers with number 04-2011.

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Length: 47 pages
Date of creation: 16 Feb 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:gii:giihei:heidwp04-2011
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  1. Charles Goodhart, 1988. "The Evolution of Central Banks," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262570734, June.
  2. Flandreau, Marc & Jobst, Clemens, 2005. "The Ties that Divide. A Network Analysis of the International Monetary System," CEPR Discussion Papers 5129, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Marc Flandreau & Clemens Jobst, 2005. "The Ties that Divide: A Network Analysis of the International Monetary System, 1890-1910," Sciences Po publications n°5129, Sciences Po.
  4. Barry Eichengreen, Marc Flandreau, 2010. "The Federal Reserve, the Bank of England, and the Rise of the Dollar as an International Currency, 1914-1939," IHEID Working Papers 16-2010, Economics Section, The Graduate Institute of International Studies.
  5. Flandreau, Marc, 2004. "The Glitter of Gold: France, Bimetallism, and the Emergence of the International Gold Standard, 1848-1873," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199257867, March.
  6. repec:spo:wpecon:info:hdl:2441/605 is not listed on IDEAS
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