• Banking and Finance in Historical Perspective
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34. Jahrgang | Jahr 2008 | Heft 1


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Richard  H. Tilly
Banking Crises in Comparative and Historical Perspective: the Nineteenth Century
This paper was written before the current financial crisis had reached the gigantic proportions we now observe (in fall of 2008), but the emphasis on U.S. instability does seem to fit. The recent history of U.S. financial capitalism has clearly demonstrated, once again, the fragility of its institutions. As the paper attempts to show, that is part of an American tradition going back to the nineteenth century. Crises are also an integral part of the financial history of European countries, but there are some important differences. Indeed, they supply this paper’s point of departure, which is to briefly review the nineteenth-century history of a special form of financial crises – banking crises – in the United States, Great Britain and Germany in comparative perspective, and to offer a few conclusions which that experience suggests.