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