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The National Banking System: Empirical Observations


This paper provides a summary of the main features of U.S. financial and banking data during the period of the National Banking System (1863–1914). The purpose of the paper is to provide an overview of the stylized facts associated with the era, with an emphasis on those impinging on national bank behavior. The paper takes a detailed look at key elements of national bank balance sheets over time, over the seasons, and during panic periods. The interesting and puzzling patterns of interest rate movements during the era also are examined. The paper introduces a new set of disaggregated data on the national bank era that has not been examined by prior research. As data are presented in the paper, some of the key puzzles associated with the era are introduced.

This paper represents a preliminary chapter from a forthcoming monograph on the period of the National Banking System. Other chapters of the monograph appear in the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland’s working paper series as working paper 07-22R2 and working paper 07-23R2.

JEL codes: E42, E43, G21, N21

Key words: bank notes, interest rates, National Banking System, national banks


Suggested citation: Champ, Bruce, 2007. "The National Banking System: Empirical Observations," Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, Working Paper no. 07-19.

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