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Full-Text Articles in History
Distress During The Great Depression: The Illiquidity-Insolvency Debate Revisited, 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.
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.