State Banking in Early America: A New Economic History

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Overview

Howard Bodenhorn's State Banking in Early America studies the financial experimentation that took place in the United States between 1790 and 1860. Dr. Bodenhorn's book explores regional differences in banking structures, which bear indirectly in the conection between financial and economic development. If a single theme emerges, it is that the United States benefitted from its free banking philosophy in which state governments, rather than a centralized authority, created financial structures designed to serve specific, local needs. Thus decentralized federalism provided state legislatures with a great deal of flexibility in their individual approaches to economic and financial issues. The important lessons to be learned from Dr. Bodenhorn's historical account are that successful banking systems are flexible, predictable, and incentive-compatible; they meet the needs of the borrowers, depositors and shareholders, and they reduce downside risks to generally agreed upon levels. These lessons imply that we cannot, a priori, define an optimal, one-size-fits-all banking system. We need to know something about the formal and informal institutions underlying an economy and about the risk preferences of its citizenry. Historically, outsiders view Americans as experimenters and risk takers. Nowhere is this experimentation and risk taking more apparent than in early American banking policies.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Professor Bodenhorn has provided students of American business history with a thoughtful, well-written account of the role of state-chartered commercial banks in furthering the material progress of antebellum America."—Business History Review
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195147766
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 11/28/2002
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 1,340,132
  • Lexile: 1490L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 9.20 (w) x 6.40 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Table of Contents

1. Introduction
2. Establishment and Governance of the Antebellum Bank
3. Banking Theory and Banking Practice in Antebellum America
4. New England: Small Banks and Familial Ties
5. The Rise and Fall of the Suffolk System
6. Middle Atlantic: Conservatism and Experimentation
7. New York's Safety Fund System: America's First Bank Insurance Experiment
8. Free Banking: The Populist Revolt Takes Root in New York
9. Banking in the South and West: Banks and the Commonweal
10. Property Banking, Free Banking, and Branch Banking
11. Assessing America's Early Banks
Notes
Bibliography
Index

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