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Contagion During the Initial Banking Panic of the Great Depression

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  • Erik Heitfield
  • Gary Richardson
  • Shirley Wang

Abstract

The initial banking crisis of the Great Depression has been the subject of debate. Some scholars believe a contagious panic spread among financial institutions. Others argue that suspensions surged because fundamentals, such as losses on loans, drove banks out of business. This paper nests those hypotheses in a single econometric framework, a Bayesian hazard rate model with spatial and network effects. New data on correspondent networks and bank locations enables us to determine which hypothesis fits the data best. The best fitting models are ones incorporating network and geographic effects. The results are consistent with the description of events by depression-era bankers, regulators, and newspapers. Contagion - both interbank and spatial - propelled a panic which healthy banks survived but which forced illiquid and insolvent banks out of operations.

Suggested Citation

  • Erik Heitfield & Gary Richardson & Shirley Wang, 2017. "Contagion During the Initial Banking Panic of the Great Depression," NBER Working Papers 23629, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:23629 Note: DAE
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Milton Friedman & Anna J. Schwartz, 1963. "A Monetary History of the United States, 1867–1960," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number frie63-1, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Anbil, Sriya & Vossmeyer, Angela, 2017. "Liquidity from Two Lending Facilities," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2017-117, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C11 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Bayesian Analysis: General
    • C23 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Models with Panel Data; Spatio-temporal Models
    • C41 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods: Special Topics - - - Duration Analysis; Optimal Timing Strategies
    • E02 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General - - - Institutions and the Macroeconomy
    • N1 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations
    • N12 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-
    • N2 - Economic History - - Financial Markets and Institutions
    • N22 - Economic History - - Financial Markets and Institutions - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-

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