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Full-Text Articles in Economic History

Distress During The Great Depression: The Illiquidity-Insolvency Debate Revisited, Gary Richardson Sep 2007

Distress During The Great Depression: The Illiquidity-Insolvency Debate Revisited, Gary Richardson

Gary Richardson

During the contraction from 1929 to 1933, the Federal Reserve System tracked changes in the status of all banks operating in the United States and determined the cause of each bank suspension. This essay analyzes chronological patterns in aggregate series constructed from that data. The analysis demonstrates both illiquidity and insolvency were substantial sources of bank distress. Periods of heightened distress were correlated with periods of increased illiquidity. Contagion via correspondent networks and bank runs propagated the initial banking panics. As the depression deepened and asset values declined, insolvency loomed as the principal threat to depository institutions.


Deposit Insurance And Moral Hazard: Capital, Risk, Malfeasance, And Mismanagement. A Comment On ‘Deposit Insurance And Moral Hazard: Evidence From Texas Banking During The 1920s, Gary Richardson Aug 2007

Deposit Insurance And Moral Hazard: Capital, Risk, Malfeasance, And Mismanagement. A Comment On ‘Deposit Insurance And Moral Hazard: Evidence From Texas Banking During The 1920s, Gary Richardson

Gary Richardson

A Journal of Economic History article by Linda Hooks and Kenneth Robinson, “Deposit Insurance and Moral Hazard: Evidence from Texas Banking During the 1920s,” contains a contradiction (Hooks and Robinson 2002). Pondering the contradiction in the paper reveals insights that the authors may have overlooked. Hooks and Robinson’s article examines the experience of the banking industry in Texas during the 1920s. Texas operated a deposit-insurance system from January 1, 1910 until February 11, 1927. Deposit insurance was mandatory for all state banks, which were given the choice of two plans in which to participate. The preponderance participated in the ...


Check Is In The Mail: Correspondent Clearing And The Banking Panics Of The Great Depression, Gary Richardson Aug 2007

Check Is In The Mail: Correspondent Clearing And The Banking Panics Of The Great Depression, Gary Richardson

Gary Richardson

Weaknesses within the check-clearing system played a hitherto unrecognized role in the banking crises of the Great Depression. Correspondent check-clearing networks were vulnerable to counter-party cascades. Accounting conventions that overstated reserves available to corresponding institutions may have exacerbated the situation. The initial banking panic began when a correspondent network centered in Nashville collapsed, forcing over 100 institutions to suspend operations. As the contraction continued, additional correspondent systems imploded. The vulnerability of correspondent networks is one reason that banks that cleared via correspondents failed at higher rates than other institutions during the Great Depression.