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Fundamentals, Panics, and Bank Distress During the Depression

Calomiris, Charles W.; Mason, Joseph R.

We assemble bank-level and other data for Fed member banks to model determinants of bank failure. Fundamentals explain bank failure risk well. The first two Friedman-Schwartz crises are not associated with positive unexplained residual failure risk, or increased importance of bank illiquidity for forecasting failure. The third Friedman-Schwartz crisis is more ambiguous, but increased residual failure risk is small in the aggregate. The final crisis (early 1933) saw a large unexplained increase in bank failure risk. Local contagion and illiquidity may have played a role in pre-1933 bank failures, even though those effects were not large in their aggregate impact.

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Published In
American Economic Review
Publisher DOI
https://doi.org/10.1257/000282803322655473
Volume
93
Issue
5
Pages
1615 - 1647
Academic Units
Business
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