NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Lessons from the American Experience with Free Banking

Hugh Rockoff

NBER Historical Working Paper No. 9
Issued in December 1989
NBER Program(s):   DAE

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.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/h0009

Published: In Unregulated Banking: Chaos or Order? eds. Forrest Caprie and Geoffrey Wood. London: MacMillan Academic and Professional, Ltd., 1991.

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