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Who Panics During Panics? Evidence from a Nineteenth Century Savings Bank

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  • Cormac O. Grada
  • Eugene N. White

Abstract

Using records of the bank accounts of individual depositors, this paper provides a detailed microeconomic analysis of two nineteenth century banking panics. The panics of 1854 and 1857 were not characterized by an immediate mass panic of depositors and had important time dimensions. We examine depositor behavior using a hazard model. Contagion was the key factor in 1854 but it was not strong enough to create more than a local panic. In contrast, the panic of 1857 began with runs by businessmen and banking sophisticates followed by less informed depositors. Uninformed contagion may have been present, but the evidence suggests that this panic was driven by informational shocks in the face of asymmetric information about the true condition of bank portfolios.

Suggested Citation

  • Cormac O. Grada & Eugene N. White, 2002. "Who Panics During Panics? Evidence from a Nineteenth Century Savings Bank," NBER Working Papers 8856, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8856 Note: DAE ME
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Kiefer, Nicholas M, 1988. "Economic Duration Data and Hazard Functions," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 26(2), pages 646-679, June.
    2. Miron, Jeffrey A, 1986. "Financial Panics, the Seasonality of the Nominal Interest Rate, and theFounding of the Fed," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(1), pages 125-140, March.
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    5. Charles W. Calomiris & Gary Gorton, 1991. "The Origins of Banking Panics: Models, Facts, and Bank Regulation," NBER Chapters,in: Financial Markets and Financial Crises, pages 109-174 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Alter, George & Goldin, Claudia & Rotella, Elyce, 1994. "The Savings of Ordinary Americans: The Philadelphia Saving Fund Society in the Mid-Nineteenth Century," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 54(04), pages 735-767, December.
    7. Jeffrey A. Frankel & Sergio L. Schmukler, 1996. "Country Fund Discounts, Asymmetric Information and the Mexican Crisis of 1994: Did Local Residents Turn Pessimistic Before International Investors?," NBER Working Papers 5714, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    10. Cormac O Grada & Morgan Kelly, 2000. "Market Contagion: Evidence from the Panics of 1854 and 1857," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(5), pages 1110-1124, December.
    11. Gorton, Gary & Winton, Andrew, 2003. "Financial intermediation," Handbook of the Economics of Finance,in: G.M. Constantinides & M. Harris & R. M. Stulz (ed.), Handbook of the Economics of Finance, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 8, pages 431-552 Elsevier.
    12. V.V. Chari & Ravi Jagannathan, 1984. "Banking Panics," Discussion Papers 618, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
    13. Chari, V V & Jagannathan, Ravi, 1988. " Banking Panics, Information, and Rational Expectations Equilibrium," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 43(3), pages 749-761, July.
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    15. O Grada, Cormac, 1995. "Ireland: A New Economic History 1780-1939," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198205982.
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    Cited by:

    1. Cormac O Grada & Morgan Kelly, 2000. "Market Contagion: Evidence from the Panics of 1854 and 1857," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(5), pages 1110-1124, December.
    2. Carlson, Mark, 2005. "Causes of bank suspensions in the panic of 1893," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 56-80, January.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • N2 - Economic History - - Financial Markets and Institutions
    • E5 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit

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