Lessons from the American Experience with Free Banking
NBER Historical Working Paper No. 9
There has been considerable interest in recent years in historical experiments with "free banking." This paper examines once again the American experiments in the decades before the Civil War, and the recent literature on them. The lessons of this experience for four issues are considered: (1) the appropriate mechanism for controlling the monetary base, (2) the need for a lender of last resort, (3) the costs and benefits of a bank issued currency, and (4) the potential under a regime of free banking for wildcat banking.
Published: In Unregulated Banking: Chaos or Order? eds. Forrest Caprie and Geoffrey Wood. London: MacMillan Academic and Professional, Ltd., 1991.