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Resolving the Puzzle of the Underissuance of National Bank Notes

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  • Charles W. Calomiris
  • Joseph R. Mason

Abstract

The puzzle of underissuance of national bank notes disappears when one disaggregates data, takes account of regulatory limits, and considers differences in opportunity costs. Banks with poor lending opportunities maximized their issuance. Other banks chose to limit issuance. Redemption costs do not explain cross-sectional variation in issuance and the observed relationship between note issuance and excess reserves is inconsistent with the redemption risk hypothesis of underissuance. National banks did not enter primarily to issue national bank notes, and a "pure arbitrage" strategy of chartering a national bank only to issue national bank notes would not have been profitable. Indeed, new entrants issued less while banks exiting were often maximum issuers. Economies of scope between note issuing and deposit banking included shared overhead costs and the ability to reduce costs of mandatory minimum reserve and capital requirements.

Suggested Citation

  • Charles W. Calomiris & Joseph R. Mason, 2004. "Resolving the Puzzle of the Underissuance of National Bank Notes," NBER Working Papers 10951, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10951
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Merton H. Miller & Daniel Orr, 1966. "A Model of the Demand for Money by Firms," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 80(3), pages 413-435.
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    3. Cagan, Phillip & Schwartz, Anna J, 1991. "The National Bank Note Puzzle Reinterpreted," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 23(3), pages 293-307, August.
    4. James, John A., 1976. "A Note on Interest Paid on New York Bankers' Balances in the Postbellum Period," Business History Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 50(02), pages 198-202, June.
    5. Charles W. Calomiris & R. Glenn Hubbard, 1987. "International Adjustment Under the Classical Gold Standard: Evidence for the U.S. and Britain, 1879-1914," NBER Working Papers 2206, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Tao Zhu & Neil Wallace, 2004. "Float on a Note," 2004 Meeting Papers 342, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    7. Duggar, Jan Warren & Rost, Ronald F., 1969. "National Bank Note Redemption and Treasury Cash," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 29(03), pages 512-520, September.
    8. Bruce A. Champ & Neil Wallace & Warren E. Weber, 1992. "Resolving the national bank note paradox," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Spr, pages 13-21.
    9. Kuehlwein, Michael, 1992. "The National Bank Note Controversy Reexamined," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 24(1), pages 111-126, February.
    10. Calomiris, Charles W, 1994. "Price and Exchange Rate Determination during the Greenback Suspension," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 46(2), pages 344-344, April.
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    13. James, John A, 1976. "The Conundrum of the Low Issue of National Bank Notes," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 84(2), pages 359-367, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Calomiris, Charles W. & Carlson, Mark, 2016. "Corporate governance and risk management at unprotected banks: National banks in the 1890s," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 119(3), pages 512-532.
    2. Kris James Mitchener & Matthew Jaremski, 2014. "The Evolution of Bank Supervision: Evidence from U.S. States," NBER Working Papers 20603, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Bouwman, Christa H. S., 2013. "Liquidity: How Banks Create It and How It Should Be Regulated," Working Papers 13-32, University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School, Weiss Center.
    4. Stephen F. Quinn & William Roberds, 2008. "The evolution of the check as a means of payment: a historical survey," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
    5. repec:eee:jfinec:v:125:y:2017:i:3:p:434-453 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Calomiris, Charles W. & Carlson, Mark, 2017. "Interbank networks in the National Banking Era: Their purpose and their role in the Panic of 1893," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 125(3), pages 434-453.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E5 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit
    • E42 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Monetary Sytsems; Standards; Regimes; Government and the Monetary System
    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
    • G28 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Government Policy and Regulation
    • N11 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913

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