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Arresting Banking Panics: Fed Liquidity Provision and the Forgotten Panic of 1929


  • Mark Carlson
  • Kris James Mitchener
  • Gary Richardson


Scholars differ on whether Federal Reserve intervention mitigated banking panics during the Great Depression and in recent years. The last panic prior to the Depression sheds light on this debate. In April 1929, a fruit fly infestation in Florida forced the U.S. government to quarantine fruit shipments from the state and destroy infested groves. When Congress recessed in June without approving compensation for farmers, depositors in citrus growing regions began withdrawing deposits from banks, culminating in runs on institutions in the financial center of Tampa and surrounding cities. Using archival evidence, we describe how the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta halted the spread of the panic by rushing currency to member banks. Analysis based on a new micro-level database of commercial banks in Florida shows that bank failures would have been twice as high without the Fed's intervention. The policy response of the Fed ended the panic and suggests that similar interventions by the Fed may have been useful during the Great Depression, even in cases where banks faced questions about their solvency.

Suggested Citation

  • Mark Carlson & Kris James Mitchener & Gary Richardson, 2010. "Arresting Banking Panics: Fed Liquidity Provision and the Forgotten Panic of 1929," NBER Working Papers 16460, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16460
    Note: DAE ME

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Markus K. Brunnermeier & Lasse Heje Pedersen, 2009. "Market Liquidity and Funding Liquidity," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 22(6), pages 2201-2238, June.
    2. White, Eugene Nelson, 1984. "A Reinterpretation of the Banking Crisis of 1930," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 44(01), pages 119-138, March.
    3. Gary Richardson & William Troost, 2009. "Monetary Intervention Mitigated Banking Panics during the Great Depression: Quasi-Experimental Evidence from a Federal Reserve District Border, 1929-1933," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 117(6), pages 1031-1073, December.
    4. Carlson, Mark, 2005. "Causes of bank suspensions in the panic of 1893," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 56-80, January.
    5. Mark Carlson, 2010. "Alternatives for Distressed Banks during the Great Depression," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 42(2-3), pages 421-441, March.
    6. Aleh Tsyvinski & Arijit Mukherji & Christian Hellwig, 2006. "Self-Fulfilling Currency Crises: The Role of Interest Rates," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(5), pages 1769-1787, December.
    7. Peter Temin, 1991. "Lessons from the Great Depression," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262700441, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jonathan D. Rose, 2012. "The prolonged resolution of troubled real estate lenders during the 1930s," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2012-31, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    2. Jonathan D. Rose, 2014. "The Prolonged Resolution of Troubled Real Estate Lenders during the 1930s," NBER Chapters,in: Housing and Mortgage Markets in Historical Perspective, pages 245-284 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E44 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Financial Markets and the Macroeconomy
    • E58 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Central Banks and Their Policies
    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
    • N22 - Economic History - - Financial Markets and Institutions - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-


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