The Experience of Free Banking by Kevin Dowd

By Kevin Dowd

The renewed curiosity in unfastened banking has led to historic learn of locations and classes that skilled a few kind of laissez faire banking. The event of loose Banking includes the widest precis so far of this paintings, together with checks of loose banking in Australia, the us, Canada, China, Columbia, France, Scotland, and Switzerland. In nearly each example, those case experiences invalidate the typical assumption that festival in banking can be suppressed since it triggers fast inflation and destabilizes the banking undefined.

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Accounts of branch banking systems rarely mention instances of counterfeiting and fraudulent note issue during periods of convertibility. Frauds by bank employees happened, of course. But there is no evidence that fraud was so widespread that it undermined the stability of any free banking system, though it occasionally caused individual banks, usually small ones, to fail. Certainly free banking offers nothing to compare with the massive fraud in the American savings and loan industry over the past few years.

Most involuntarily imposed suspensions happened during wartime. Governments recognized that compelling banks to maintain convertibility would choke off credit as the public rushed to withdraw gold and silver from bank reserves. The precarious situation that free banks faced in wartime was not the product of free banking’s own instability, but of events that goldor silver-standard central banking systems could not handle either. If anything, central banking systems historically have been more prone to suspend convertibility than free banking systems.

The bank asked the government to rescue it, which the government did. The other banks in the system suffered runs because the public The world history of free banking 29 suspected them of weakness, but they met all demands to pay out gold (Sayers 1952:326–7). Argentina Argentina’s currency during its free banking period consisted of fiat government notes and bank notes nominally backed by gold government bonds, but in reality unbacked. In November 1890, the Bank of England came to the rescue of Baring Brothers, the largest underwriter of Argentine bonds.

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