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Banks, Free Banks, and U.S. Economic Growth

  • Matthew Jaremski
  • Peter L. Rousseau

The "Federalist financial revolution" may have jump-started the U.S. economy into modern growth, but the Free Banking System (1837-1862) did not play a direct role in sustaining it. Despite lowering entry barriers and extending banking into developing regions, we find in county-level data that free banks had little or no effect on growth. The result is not just a symptom of the era, as state-chartered banks seem to have strong and positive effects on manufacturing and urbanization.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 18021.

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Date of creation: Apr 2012
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Matthew Jaremski & Peter L. Rousseau, 2013. "Banks, Free Banks, And U.S. Economic Growth," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 51(2), pages 1603-1621, 04.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18021
Note: DAE ME
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  1. Rousseau, Peter L., 2002. "Jacksonian Monetary Policy, Specie Flows, And The Panic Of 1837," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 62(02), pages 457-488, June.
  2. Peter L. Rousseau & Richard Sylla, 2000. "Emerging Financial Markets and Early U.S. Growth," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 1254, Econometric Society.
  3. Arthur J. Rolnick & Warren E. Weber, 1985. "Inherent instability in banking: the free banking experience," Working Papers 275, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  4. Rolnick, Arthur J. & Weber, Warren E., 1984. "The causes of free bank failures : A detailed examination," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(3), pages 267-291, November.
  5. King, Robert G & Levine, Ross, 1993. "Finance and Growth: Schumpeter Might Be Right," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 108(3), pages 717-37, August.
  6. Gerald P. Dwyer & Iftekhar Hasan, 1996. "Suspension of payments, bank failures, and the nonbank public's losses," FRB Atlanta Working Paper 96-3, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
  7. Bodenhorn,Howard, 2000. "A History of Banking in Antebellum America," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521669993, October.
  8. Matthew Jaremski, 2010. "Free Bank Failures: Risky Bonds versus Undiversified Portfolios," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 42(8), pages 1565-1587, December.
  9. Rockoff, Hugh, 1974. "The Free Banking Era: A Reexamination," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 6(2), pages 141-67, May.
  10. Howard Bodenhorn & David Cuberes, 2010. "Financial development and city growth: Evidence from Northeastern American cities, 1790-1870," Working Papers 2010/35, Institut d'Economia de Barcelona (IEB).
  11. Scott Fulford, 2010. "How important are banks for development? National banks in the United States 1870–1900," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 753, Boston College Department of Economics, revised 15 Dec 2014.
  12. Panicos O. Demetriades & Khaled A.Hussein, 1995. "Does Financial Development Cause Economic Growth? Time-Series Evidence from 16 Countries," Keele Department of Economics Discussion Papers (1995-2001) 95/13, Department of Economics, Keele University.
  13. Rolnick, Arthur J & Weber, Warren E, 1983. "New Evidence on the Free Banking Era," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(5), pages 1080-91, December.
  14. Rousseau, Peter L & Wachtel, Paul, 1998. "Financial Intermediation and Economic Performance: Historical Evidence from Five Industrialized Countries," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 30(4), pages 657-78, November.
  15. Mitchel Y. Abolafia (ed.), 2005. "Markets," Books, Edward Elgar, number 2788, April.
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