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Fighting the Last War: Economists on the Lender of Last Resort

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  • Richard S. Grossman
  • Hugh Rockoff

Abstract

In this paper we trace the evolution of the lender of last resort doctrine—and its implementation—from the nineteenth century through the panic of 2008. We find that typically the most influential economists “fight the last war”: formulating policy guidelines that would have dealt effectively with the last crisis or in some cases the last two or three. This applies even to the still supreme voice among lender-of-last-resort theorists, Walter Bagehot, who wrestled with the how to deal with the financial crises that hit Britain between the end of the Napoleonic Wars and the panic of 1866. Fighting the last war may leave economists unprepared for meeting effectively the challenge of the next war.

Suggested Citation

  • Richard S. Grossman & Hugh Rockoff, 2015. "Fighting the Last War: Economists on the Lender of Last Resort," NBER Working Papers 20832, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:20832
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    Cited by:

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    2. Laurent Le Maux, 2021. "Bagehot for Central Bankers," Working Papers hal-03201509, HAL.
    3. Anson, Mike & Bholat, David & Kang, Miao & Thomas, Ryland, 2017. "The Bank of England as lender of last resort: new historical evidence from daily transactional data," Bank of England working papers 691, Bank of England.
    4. Allen, Kyle D. & Hein, Scott E. & Whitledge, Matthew D., 2017. "The evolution of the Federal Reserve’s Term Auction Facility and FDIC-insured bank utilization," Journal of Financial Stability, Elsevier, vol. 31(C), pages 154-166.
    5. Masami Imai & Tetsuji Okazaki & Michiru Sawada, 2022. "The effects of lender of last resort on financial intermediation during the great depression in Japan [Ginko Hatan gaoyobosu Densenkoka no Bunseki (The analyses of the effect of contagion caused by," European Review of Economic History, European Historical Economics Society, vol. 26(3), pages 448-478.
    6. Chwieroth, Jeffrey M. & Walter, Andrew, 2022. "Neoliberalism and banking crisis bailouts: distant enemies or warring neighbors?," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 111871, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    7. Masami Imai & Tetsuji Okazaki & Michiru Sawada, 2022. "The effects of lender of last resort on financial intermediation during the great depression in Japan [Ginko Hatan gaoyobosu Densenkoka no Bunseki (The analyses of the effect of contagion caused by," European Review of Economic History, European Historical Economics Society, vol. 26(3), pages 448-478.
    8. Schuler, Kurt, 2020. "The Financial Firefighter’s Manual," Studies in Applied Economics 169, The Johns Hopkins Institute for Applied Economics, Global Health, and the Study of Business Enterprise.
    9. Stracca, Livio & Scheubel, Beatrice, 2016. "What do we know about the global financial safety net? Rationale, data and possible evolution," Occasional Paper Series 177, European Central Bank.

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    JEL classification:

    • B0 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - General
    • N2 - Economic History - - Financial Markets and Institutions

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