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Bank Distress During the Great Contraction, 1929 to 1933, New Data from the Archives of the Board of Governors

  • Gary Richardson

During the contraction from 1929 through 1933, the Federal Reserve System tracked changes in the status of all banks operating in the United States and determined the cause of each bank suspension. This essay introduces that hitherto dormant data and analyzes chronological patterns in aggregate series constructed from it. The analysis demonstrates both illiquidity and insolvency were substantial sources of bank distress. Contagion (via correspondent networks and bank runs) propagated the initial banking panics. As the depression deepened and asset values declined, insolvency loomed as the principal threat to depository institutions. These patterns corroborate some and question other conjectures concerning the causes and consequences of the financial crisis during the Great Contraction.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 12590.

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Date of creation: Oct 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12590
Note: DAE ME
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  1. Meltzer, Allan H., 1976. "Monetary and other explanations of the start of the great depression," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 2(4), pages 455-471, November.
  2. Wheelock, David C, 1990. "Member Bank Borrowing and the Fed's Contractionary Monetary Policy during the Great Depression," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 22(4), pages 409-26, November.
  3. Mark Carlson, 2001. "Are branch banks better survivors? Evidence from the Depression era," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2001-51, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  4. Bernanke, Ben S, 1983. "Nonmonetary Effects of the Financial Crisis in Propagation of the Great Depression," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(3), pages 257-76, June.
  5. Lucia, Joseph L., 1985. "The failure of the bank of United States: A reappraisal," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 22(4), pages 402-416, October.
  6. Christiano, Lawrence & Motto, Roberto & Rostagno, Massimo, 2004. "The Great Depression and the Friedman-Schwartz hypothesis," Working Paper Series 0326, European Central Bank.
  7. Kris James Mitchener, 2004. "Bank Supervision, Regulation, and Instability During the Great Depression," NBER Working Papers 10475, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Peter Temin, 1991. "Lessons from the Great Depression," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262700441, June.
  9. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521562614 is not listed on IDEAS
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