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Banks, free banks, and U.S. economic growth

  • Matthew Jaremski


    (Department of Economics, Colgate University)

  • Peter Rousseau


    (Department of Economics, Vanderbilt University)

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 Vanderbilt University Department of Economics in its series Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers with number 12-00012.

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Date of creation: 13 Sep 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:van:wpaper:vuecon-12-00012
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  1. Arthur J. Rolnick & Warren E. Weber, 1986. "Inherent Instability in Banking: The Free Banking Experience," Cato Journal, Cato Journal, Cato Institute, vol. 5(3), pages 877-890, Winter.
  2. 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.
  3. Peter L. Rousseau, 2000. "Jacksonian Monetary Policy, Specie Flows, and the Panic of 1837," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 0004, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics, revised Jun 2001.
  4. King, Robert G. & Levine, Ross, 1993. "Finance and growth : Schumpeter might be right," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1083, The World Bank.
  5. Bodenhorn,Howard, 2000. "A History of Banking in Antebellum America," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521669993, October.
  6. Demetriades, Panicos O. & Hussein, Khaled A., 1996. "Does financial development cause economic growth? Time-series evidence from 16 countries," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(2), pages 387-411, December.
  7. 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).
  8. King, Robert G. & Levine, Ross, 1993. "Finance and growth : Schumpeter might be right," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1083, The World Bank.
  9. Peter L. Rousseau & Richard Sylla, 2000. "Emerging Financial Markets and Early U.S. Growth," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 0015, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics.
  10. 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.
  11. Mitchel Y. Abolafia (ed.), 2005. "Markets," Books, Edward Elgar, number 2788, April.
  12. Rockoff, Hugh, 1974. "The Free Banking Era: A Reexamination," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 6(2), pages 141-67, May.
  13. 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.
  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. 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.
  16. 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.
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