Liquidity Risk, Bank Networks, and the Value of Joining the Federal Reserve System
Reducing systemic liquidity risk related to seasonal swings in loan demand was one reason for the founding of the Federal Reserve System. Existing evidence on the post-Federal Reserve increase in the seasonal volatility of aggregate lending and the decrease in seasonal interest rate swings suggests that it succeeded in that mission. Nevertheless, less than 8 percent of state-chartered banks joined the Federal Reserve in its first decade. Some have speculated that nonmembers could avoid higher costs of the Federal Reserve?s reserve requirements while still obtaining access indirectly to the ...
Did the Founding of the Federal Reserve Affect the Vulnerability of the Interbank System to Congation Risk?
As a result of legal restrictions on branch banking, an extensive interbank system developed in the United States during the nineteenth century to facilitate interregional payments and flows of liquidity and credit. Vast sums moved through the interbank system to meet seasonal and other demands, but the system also transmitted shocks during banking panics. The Federal Reserve was established in 1914 to reduce reliance on the interbank system and to correct other defects that caused banking system instability. Drawing on recent theoretical work on interbank networks, we examine how the Fed?s ...
Beyond thirty: Treasury issuance of long-term bonds from 1953 to 1965
Ever since the emergence of regular and predictable issuance of coupon-bearing Treasury debt in the 1970s, thirty years has marked the outer boundary of Treasury bond maturities. However, longer-term bonds were not unknown in earlier years. Seven such bonds, including one with a forty-year term, were issued between 1955 and 1963. This paper examines the circumstances that led to the issuance of these seven bonds.
Information Management in Times of Crisis
How does information management and control affect bank stability? Following a national bank holiday in 1933, New York state bank regulators suspended the publication of balance sheets of state-charter banks for two years, whereas the national-charter bank regulator did not. We use this divergence in policies to examine how the suspension of bank-specific information affected depositors. We find that state-charter banks experienced significantly less deposit outflows than national-charter banks in 1933. However, the behavior of bank deposits across both types of banks converged in 1934 after ...
Managing a New Policy Framework: Paul Volcker, the St. Louis Fed, and the 1979-82 War on Inflation
In October 1979, Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker persuaded his Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) colleagues to adopt a new policy framework that (i) accepted responsibility for controlling inflation and (ii) implemented new operating procedures to control the growth of monetary aggregates in an effort to restore price stability. These moves were strongly supported by monetarist-oriented economists, including the leadership and staff of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. The next three years saw inflation peak and then fall sharply but also two recessions and considerable ...
Managing the Treasury Yield Curve in the 1940s
This paper examines the efforts of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) to first control, and later decontrol, the level and shape of the Treasury yield curve in the 1940s. The paper begins with a brief review of monetary policy in 1938 and a description of the period between September 1939 and December 1941, when the idea of maintaining a fixed yield curve first appeared. It then discusses the financing of U.S. participation in World War II and the experience with maintaining a fixed curve. The paper concludes with a discussion of how the FOMC regained control of monetary policy in the ...
Banker Preferences, Interbank Connections, and the Enduring Structure of the Federal Reserve System
Established by a three person committee in 1914, the structure of the Federal Reserve System has remained essentially unchanged ever since, despite criticism at the time and over ensuing decades. This paper examines the original selection of cities for Reserve Banks and branches, and placement of district boundaries. We show that each aspect of the Fed?s structure reflected the preferences of national banks, including adjustments to district boundaries after 1914. Further, using newly-collected data on interbank connections, we find that banker preferences mirrored established correspondent ...
The first debt ceiling crisis
In the second half of 1953 the United States, for the first time, risked exceeding the statutory limit on Treasury debt. This paper describes how Congress, the White House, and Treasury officials dealt with the looming crisis?by deferring and reducing expenditures, monetizing ?free? gold that remained from the devaluation of the dollar in 1934, and, ultimately, raising the debt ceiling.
Federal Reserve Participation in Public Treasury Offerings
This paper describes the evolution of Federal Reserve participation in public Treasury offerings. It covers the pre-1935 period, when the Fed participated on an equal footing with other investors in exchange offerings priced by Treasury officials, to its present-day practice of reinvesting the proceeds of maturing securities with “add-ons” priced in public auctions in which the Fed does not participate. The paper describes how the Federal Reserve System adapted its operating procedures to comply with the 1935 limitations on its Treasury purchases, how it modified its operating procedures ...
Reducing moral hazard at the expense of market discipline: the effectiveness of double liability before and during the Great Depression
Prior to the Great Depression, regulators imposed double liability on bank shareholders to ensure financial stability and protect depositors. Under double liability, shareholders of failing banks lost their initial investment and had to pay up to the par value of the stock in order to compensate depositors. We examine whether double liability was effective at mitigating bank risks and providing a safety net for depositors before and during the Great Depression. We first develop a model that demonstrates two competing effects of double liability: a direct effect that constrains bank risk ...