We explore the long-run demand for M1 based on a dataset comprising 38 countries and relatively long sample periods, extending in some cases to over a century. Overall, we find very strong evidence of a long-run relationship between the ratio of M1 to GDP and a short-term interest rate, in spite of a few failures. The standard log-log specification provides a very good characterization of the data, with the exception of periods featuring very low interest rate values. This is because such a specification implies that, as the short rate tends to zero, real money balances become arbitrarily large, which is rejected by the data. A simple extension imposing limits on the amount that households can borrow results in a truncated log-log specification, which is in line with what we observe in the data. We estimate the interest rate elasticity to be between 0.3 and 0.6, which encompasses the well-known squared-root specification of Baumol and Tobin.
We explore the long-run demand for M1 based on a data set that has comprised 32 countries since 1851. In many cases, cointegration tests identify a long-run equilibrium relationship between either velocity and the short rate or M1, GDP, and the short rate. Evidence is especially strong for the United States and the United Kingdom over the entire period since World War I and for moderate and high-inflation countries.
With the exception of high-inflation countries–for which a “log-log” specification is preferred–the data often prefer the specification in the levels of velocity and the short rate originally estimated by Selden (1956) and Latané (1960). This is especially clear for the United States and other low-inflation countries.
This paper examines two different clearing arrangements for bank liabilities. One was a profit-maximizing private entity, the Suffolk Banking System. It cleared notes for New England banks between 1827 and 1858. The other was a nonprofit collective, the clearinghouses organized in many cities beginning in 1853. The paper examines how well these arrangements prevented bank failures and acted as lenders of last resort. It finds the Suffolk system had fewer failures but acted less like a lender of last resort. It argues that these differences can be explained by the different incentives facing the Suffolk Bank and the members of clearinghouses.
Prior to 1861, several U.S. states established bank liability insurance schemes. One type was an insurance fund. Member banks paid into a state-run fund that paid bank creditors’ losses. A second scheme was a mutual guarantee system. Member banks were legally responsible for the liabilities of any insolvent bank. This paper’s hypothesis is that the moral hazard problem was controlled under a scheme to the degree that member banks had the power and incentive to control or modify others’ risk-taking behavior. Schemes that gave member banks both strong incentives and power were able to control the moral hazard problem better than schemes in which one or both features were weak. Empirical evidence on bank failures and losses on banks’ asset portfolios is consistent with this hypothesis.
We construct a random matching model of a monetary economy with commodity money in the form of potentially different types of silver coins that are distinguishable by the quantity of metal they contain. The quantity of silver in the economy is assumed to be fixed, but agents can mint and melt coins. Coins yield no utility, but can be traded. Uncoined silver yields direct utility to the holder. We find that optimal coin size increases with the probability of trade and with the stock of silver. We use these predictions of our model to analyze the coinage decisions of the monetary authorities in medieval Venice and England. Our model provides theoretical support for the view that decisions about coin sizes and types during the medieval period reflected a desire to improve the economic welfare of the general population, not just the desire for seigniorage revenue.
Contemporaries, and economic historians, have noted several features of medieval and early modern European monetary systems that are hard to analyze using models of centralized exchange. For example, contemporaries complained of recurrent shortages of small change and argued that an abundance/dearth of money had real effects on exchange. To confront these facts, we build a random matching monetary model with two indivisible coins with different intrinsic values. The model shows that small change shortages can exist in the sense that adding small coins to an economy with only large coins is welfare improving. This effect is amplified by increases in trading opportunities. Further, changes in the quantity of monetary metals affect the real economy and the amount of exchange as well as the optimal denomination size. Finally, the model shows that replacing full-bodied small coins with tokens is not necessarily welfare improving.
Commodity money standards in medieval and early modern Europe were characterized by recurring complaints of small change shortages and by numerous debasements of the coinage. To confront these facts, we build a random matching monetary model with two indivisible coins with different intrinsic values. The model shows that small change shortages can exist in the sense that changes in the size of the small coin affect ex ante welfare. Further, the optimal ratio of coin sizes is shown to depend upon the trading opportunities in a country and a country’s wealth. Thus, coinage debasements can be interpreted as optimal responses to changes in fundamentals. Further, the model shows that replacing full-bodied small coins with tokens is not necessarily welfare-improving.
Prior to the Civil War there were three major differences among states in how U.S. banks were regulated: (1) Whether they were established by charter or under free-banking laws. (2) Whether they were permitted to branch. (3) Whether the state established a state-owned bank. I use a census of the state banks that existed in the United States prior to the Civil War that I recently constructed to determine how these differences in state regulation affected the banking outcomes in these states. Specifically, I determine differences in banks per capita by state over time; bank longevities (survival rates) by state, size, and type of organization; and bank failure probabilities also by state, size, and type of organization. In addition, I estimate the losses experienced by note holders and determine whether there were systematic differences in these depending on whether or not a bank was organized under a free banking law.
Prior to 1863, state-chartered banks in the United States issued notes–dollar-denominated promises to pay specie to the bearer on demand. Although these notes circulated at par locally, they usually were quoted at a discount outside the local area. These discounts varied by both the location of the bank and the location where the discount was being quoted. Further, these discounts were asymmetric across locations, meaning that the discounts quoted in location A on the notes of banks in location B generally differed from the discounts quoted in location B on the notes of banks in location A. Also, discounts generally increased when banks suspended payments on their notes. In this paper we construct a random matching model to qualitatively match these facts about banknote discounts. To attempt to account for locational differences, the model has agents that come from two distinct locations. Each location also has bankers that can issue notes. Banknotes are accepted in exchange because banks are required to produce when a banknote is presented for redemption and their past actions are public information. Overall, the model delivers predictions consistent with the behavior of discounts.
This paper describes a newly constructed data set of all U.S. state banks from 1782 to 1861. It contains the names and locations of all banks and branches that went into business and an estimate of when each operated. The compilation is based on reported balance sheets, listings in banknote reporters, and secondary sources. Based on these data, the paper presents a count of the number of banks and branches in business by state. I argue that my series are superior to previously existing ones for reasons of consistency, accuracy, and timing. The paper contains examples to support this argument.
This study examines the pricing of U.S. state banknotes before 1860 using discount data from New York, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, and Cleveland. The study determines whether these banknotes were priced consistent with their expected net redemption value as securities are. The evidence is mixed. Prices for a bank’s notes were higher when the bank was redeeming its notes for specie than when it was not, and banknote prices generally reflected the costs of note redemption. However, the relationship between prices and redemption costs was not tight, and there were cases in which the notes of distant banks went at par.
This file contains a listing of all banks that existed in the United States between 1784 and 1860 along with their opening and closing dates. Further, if a bank went out of existence, its disposition – whether it closed, failed, or other – is given. For the methodology to obtain beginning and ending dates see Weber, Warren E., “Early State Banks in the United States: How Many Were There and When Did They Exist?” Journal of Economic History, 433–455, June 2006.
This paper examines the pricing of statebank notes prior to 1860 using data on the discounts on these notes as quoted in New York, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, and Cleveland. The study is organized around determining whether these banknotes were priced consistent with their expected net redemption value. It finds a bank’s notes had higher prices when it was redeeming it notes for specie than when is was suspended. However, although prices generally varied inversely with redemption costs, the relationship was not tight and persistent arbitrage opportunities existed.
The behavior of interest rates under the U.S. National Banking System is puzzling because of the apparent presence of persistent and large unexploited arbitrage opportunities for note issuing banks. Previous attempts to explain interest rate behavior have relied on the cost or the inelasticity of note issue. These attempts are not entirely satisfactory. Here we propose a new rationale to solve the puzzle. Inelastic note issuance arises endogenously because the marginal cost of issuing notes is an increasing function of circulation. We build a spatial separation model where some fraction of agents must move each period. Banknotes can be carried between locations; deposits cannot. Taking the model to the data on national banks, we find it matches the movements in long-term interest rates well. It also predicts movements in deposit rates during panics. However, the model displays more inelasticity of notes issuance than is in the data.
This spreadsheet contains the disaggregated national bank call reports by state and reserve city for each call report date. These data appear as compiled by the Comptroller of the Currency. These data are a “cleaned” version of the data published in the Annual Reports of the Comptroller of the Currency. Where assets and liabilities were not equal for a state or reserve city in the original, they have been corrected to be equal in this data set. This was done by comparing for each asset and liability category differences between totals as reported by the Comptroller and totals category obtained by aggregating the individual state and reserve city data. It should also be noted that aggregates for the entire National Banking System should be based on the individual data in this dataset and not those reported by the Comptroller. After 1900 the dates for the data for Alaska and Hawaii that the Comptroller used in his totals do not match the dates given in the individual state reports.