May I Say That I Have a Bad Feeling About This?

Must-Read: Marc Dordal i Carreras: U.S. Banking Panics and the Credit Channel: Evidence from 1870-1904: "The empirical study of the effect of banking panics on the economy...

...has traditionally been difficult due to the lack of adequate data on output during the major part of the 19th and early 20th centuries. This paper proposes an alternative approach by looking at the business activity of the banking sector. Using a newly digitized dataset on National Banks resources and liabilities, I argue that distortions to the normal activity of the banking sector are a good proxy for the impact of panics on the economy. Additionally, I propose a novel Instrumental Variables approach for identifying the effects of banking panics through the exogenous drops in deposits induced by bank runs. The results show a temporary but large effect of panics on lending activity of approximately 10 p.p. (on impact) and an average duration of one year.