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17 posts on "Economic History"

February 19, 2016

Did Third Avenue’s Liquidation Reduce Corporate Bond Market Liquidity?



Liquidity Series III, eleventh of eleven posts

The announced liquidation of Third Avenue’s high-yield Focused Credit Fund (FCF) on December 9, 2015, drew widespread attention and reportedly sent ripples through asset markets. Events of this kind have the potential to increase the demand for market liquidity, as investors revise expectations, reassess risk exposures, and fulfill the need to trade. Moreover, portfolio effects and general fears of contagion may increase the demand for liquidity in assets only remotely related to a liquidating firm’s direct holdings. In this post, we examine whether FCF’s announced liquidation affected liquidity and returns in broader corporate bond markets.

Continue reading "Did Third Avenue’s Liquidation Reduce Corporate Bond Market Liquidity?" »

February 05, 2016

Crisis Chronicles: The Long Depression and the Panic of 1873



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It always seemed to come down to railroads in the 1800s. Railroads fueled much of the economic growth in the United States at that time, but they required that a great deal of upfront capital be devoted to risky projects. The panics of 1837 and 1857 can both be pinned on railroad investments that went awry, creating enough doubt about the banking system to cause pervasive bank runs. The fatal spark for the Panic of 1873 was also tied to railroad investments—a major bank financing a railroad venture announced that it would suspend withdrawals. As other banks started failing, consumers and businesses pulled back and America entered what is recorded as the country’s longest depression.

Continue reading "Crisis Chronicles: The Long Depression and the Panic of 1873" »

Posted by Blog Author at 7:00 AM in Economic History, Financial Institutions | Permalink | Comments (1)

January 15, 2016

Crisis Chronicles: The Gold Panic of 1869, America’s First Black Friday



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Wall Street in the late 1860s was a bare-knuckles affair plagued by robber barons, political patronage, and stock manipulation. In perhaps the most scandalous instance of manipulation ever, a cabal led by Jay Gould, a successful but ruthless railroad executive and speculator, and several highly placed political contacts, conspired to corner the gold market. Although ultimately foiled, they succeeded in bankrupting several venerable brokerage houses and crashing the stock market, causing America’s first Black Friday.

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Posted by Blog Author at 7:00 AM in Crisis Chronicles , Economic History, Financial Markets | Permalink | Comments (3)

November 20, 2015

Crisis Chronicles: The Cotton Famine of 1862-63 and the U.S. One-Dollar Note



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When the U.S. Civil War broke out in 1861, cotton was king. The southern United States produced and exported much of the world’s cotton, England was a major textile producer, and cotton textiles were exported from England around the world. At the time, many around the world depended on cotton for their livelihood. The South believed this so deeply that when the North blocked Southern ports to cut off the South’s primary means of financing war—cotton sales—Southern leaders were sure that Britain would enter the war on their side. That never happened. So when cotton supplies dried up in late 1862, thousands in Manchester and Lancashire who either directly or indirectly depended on cotton for a living found themselves without work. In this post, we describe the British cotton famine of 1862-63 and the stoic British national response. We draw primarily from a fascinating BBC Radio broadcast on the subject and John Watts’ matter-of-factly named Facts of the Cotton Famine, published in 1866.

Continue reading "Crisis Chronicles: The Cotton Famine of 1862-63 and the U.S. One-Dollar Note" »

Posted by Blog Author at 7:00 AM in Crisis Chronicles , Economic History | Permalink | Comments (0)

October 02, 2015

Crisis Chronicles: Defensive Suspension and the Panic of 1857



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Sometimes the world loses its bearings and the best alternative is a timeout. Such was the case during the Panic of 1857, which started when a prestigious bank in New York City collapsed, making all banks suddenly suspect. Banks, fearing a run on their gold reserves, started calling in loans from commercial firms and brokers, leading to asset sales at fire-sale prices and bankruptcies. By mid-October, banks in Philadelphia and New York suspended convertibility, meaning they would not allow gold to be withdrawn from their vaults even while all other banking services continued. Suspension then swept the nation as part of a defensive strategy, supported by local business interests, to prevent the Panic from spreading. While the suspensions appeared successful and few banks ended up failing, President Buchanan was outraged by what he viewed as yet another corrupt banking practice. He proposed making suspension a “death sentence” for banks as a draconian incentive to encourage safer banking practices. In this edition of Crisis Chronicles, we describe the Panic of 1857 and explain why businesses pushed for national suspension to save themselves.

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Posted by Blog Author at 7:00 AM in Crisis Chronicles , Economic History | Permalink | Comments (3)

July 15, 2015

A Discussion of Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century: Does More Capital Increase Inequality?



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Second in a two-part series


My aim in the second post of this series on Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century is to talk about the economist’s research accomplishment in reconstructing capital-output ratios for developed countries from the Industrial Revolution to the present and using them to explain why wealth inequality will rise in developed countries. I will then provide a critical discussion of his interpretation of the history of capital in the developed world. Finally, I’ll end by discussing Piketty’s main policy proposal: the global tax on capital.

Continue reading "A Discussion of Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century: Does More Capital Increase Inequality?" »

Posted by Blog Author at 7:00 AM in Economic History, Housing, Macroecon | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 13, 2015

A Discussion of Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century: By How Much Is r Greater than g?



First in a two-part series

Thomas Piketty’s 2014 book Capital in the Twenty-First Century may have been a greater sensation upon publication than Karl Marx’s nineteenth-century Das Kapital. It made the New York Times bestseller list, generated myriad reviews and responses from economists at top institutions, and was the subject of a standing-room-only session at the recent American Economic Association annual meeting. In Capital, Piketty argues that wealth inequality is set to rise from its relatively low levels in the 1950s through the 1970s to the very high levels it once occupied at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution—the time of the heroes of Jane Austen and Honoré de Balzac. He supports this argument with voluminous evidence on the history of the capital stock and of inequality in developed countries, which he argues have been moving in ways consistent with his theory. Piketty proposes that governments worldwide intervene to prevent this rise in inequality, most importantly by levying a global tax on capital.

Continue reading "A Discussion of Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century: By How Much Is r Greater than g?" »

Posted by Blog Author at 7:00 AM in Economic History, Macroecon | Permalink | Comments (0)

May 08, 2015

Crisis Chronicles: The Man on the Twenty-Dollar Bill and the Panic of 1837



Correction: This post was updated on May 8 to correct the book title and spelling of the author’s name in the fifth paragraph. We regret the error.

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President Andrew Jackson was a "hard money" man. He saw specie—that is, gold and silver—as real money, and considered paper money a suspicious store of value fabricated by corrupt bankers. So Jackson issued a decree that purchases of government land could only be made with gold or silver. And just as much as Jackson loved hard money, he despised the elites running the banking system, so he embarked on a crusade to abolish the Second Bank of the United States (the Bank). Both of these efforts by Jackson boosted the demand for specie and revealed the soft spots in an economy based on hard money. In this edition of Crisis Chronicles, we show how the heightened demand for specie ultimately led to the Panic of 1837, resulting in a credit crunch that pushed the economy into a depression that lasted until 1843.

Continue reading "Crisis Chronicles: The Man on the Twenty-Dollar Bill and the Panic of 1837" »

Posted by Blog Author at 7:00 AM in Crisis Chronicles , Economic History | Permalink | Comments (8)

April 10, 2015

Crisis Chronicles: The Panic of 1825 and the Most Fantastic Financial Swindle of All Time



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Centered in London, the banking panic of 1825 has been called the first modern financial crisis, the first Latin American crisis, and the first emerging market crisis. And while the panic displayed many of the key elements of past crises we have covered—fluctuations in money growth, an investment bubble, a stock market crash, and bank runs—this crisis had its own twists, including a Bank of England that hesitated before stepping in as lender of last resort. But it is perhaps best known for an infamous bond market swindle surrounding an entirely made-up Central American principality. In this edition of Crisis Chronicles, we explore the Panic of 1825 and visit the mythical nation of Poyais.

Continue reading "Crisis Chronicles: The Panic of 1825 and the Most Fantastic Financial Swindle of All Time " »

Posted by Blog Author at 7:00 AM in Crisis Chronicles , Economic History | Permalink | Comments (3)

August 14, 2014

Just Released: Looking under the Hood of the Subprime Auto Lending Market

Andrew Haughwout, Donghoon Lee, Joelle W. Scally, and
Wilbert van der Klaauw


Today, the New York Fed released the Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit for the second quarter of 2014. Aggregate debt was relatively flat in the second quarter as housing-related debt shrank, held down by sluggish mortgage originations. But non-housing debt balances increased across the board, with especially strong gains in auto loans. Auto loan balances, which include leases, have increased for thirteen straight quarters, and originations have not been this high since the third quarter of 2006. The Quarterly Report and the following analysis are based on data from the New York Fed’s Consumer Credit Panel, a nationally representative sample drawn from anonymized Equifax credit data.

Continue reading "Just Released: Looking under the Hood of the Subprime Auto Lending Market" »

Posted by Blog Author at 11:15 AM in Economic History, Household Finance | Permalink | Comments (3)
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