Topic 1. Part 5. The Political-Economy of Financial Panics and Bankruptcy 1789-1819 Financial Panics or Crises -- Include a variety of situations in which some financial assets suddenly lose a large part of their nominal value. Main Types: 1)Banking Crisis 2)Speculative Bubbles 3)International Crises Bank Run With Fractional Reserve Banking in the 18th and 19th Centuries, if too many depositors showed up and demanded their deposits back in specie, then banks with insufficient reserves and few liquid assets could not pay all their depositors and they collapsed. Banking panic A banking panic is a financial crisis that occurs when many banks suffer runs at the same time, as a cascading failure (USA 1933). Speculative Bubbles A speculative bubble exists in the event of large, sustained overpricing of some class of assets. One factor that frequently contributes to a bubble is the presence of buyers who purchase an asset based solely on the expectation that they can later resell it at a higher price, rather than calculating its Expected Value (the income it will generate in the future) (USA Stock market 1927-29; Housing 2001-2007). International Crises Examples: A country that maintains a fixed exchange rate is forced to devalue its currency due to a speculative attack (this is how George Soros made a lot of money when he shorted the English Pound – That is, Soros bet that the £ would fall in value against other currencies.) A country fails to pay back its sovereign debt and defaults (this is pretty common – Argentina is in default now). The Panic of 1791-1792 Hamilton’s debt securities were so successful that the market price for the bonds kept going up. In late 1791 William Duer (a friend of Hamilton’s) raised large sums of money from friends and investors to buy up as many of the 6% Government Bonds as possible and also to start new banks. By late January of 1792 the US Government and Private Bank securities peaked and began to fall precipitately. This bankrupted Duer and he ended up in Prison. Hamilton shrewdly had brokers quietly buy up the Government Securities at reasonable prices and thereby stopped the panic and stabilized the markets. For his trouble Hamilton was relentlessly attacked by Madison and Jefferson. The Panic of 1797 and The Bankruptcy Act of 1800 USA: Land Speculation Schemes. Investors would issue Private Securities based on Western Land Claims (the Land was the collateral). They sold the securities for specie. The idea was to sell the land at a price high enough to pay off the securities and make a profit. Britain: Specie Outflow due to endless Wars. Result was the Bank Restriction Act of 1797 that halted specie payments. This caused a severe commercial downturn in the port cities of the USA and bankrupted most of the Land Speculators. The Bankruptcy Act of 1800 was the first federal legislation governing bankruptcy procedures. A result of the depression of 1797, the act provided only for 1) creditor-initiated proceedings and 2) applied only to traders, merchants, and brokers. 3) After receiving petitions from two creditors concerning debts of $1,000, a district court judge could appoint a commission to decide the case. 4) The main provisions of the act allowed the sale of the bankrupt's assets to satisfy creditors, permitted the bankrupt to keep a percentage of his assets, and established that the consent of two-thirds of the creditors could discharge the bankrupt from any unsatisfied indebtedness. Though enacted as a 5-year measure, prosperity and public dissatisfaction with the act prompted its repeal in 1803. The Panic of 1819 A Land Bubble and Bank Runs William Jones, First President of the Second Bank of the United States, 1816-1819 The first major American depression, the Panic of 1819 was rooted to some extent in economic problems reaching back to the war of 1812. 1) The Demise of the First Bank of the United States caused an explosion of State Banks many of whom engaged in uncontrolled land speculation. 2) During the War of 1812 the Federal Government was forced to turn to these banks for loans. This had the effect of adding to the proliferation of paper money (State Bank notes). 3) This practice tended to shift specie into the more conservative New England banks, depleting the newer “Wildcat” State banks of their hard money reserves. 4) The Federal government had to agree to a suspension of specie payments from state banks in order to prolong the wartime lending. 5) Politically, it was simply not possible to resume specie payments in the war’s aftermath, allowing old and new banks to profitably lend without regard to their metallic currency reserves. The economy was booming with large increases in the population of the “Western” States. 6) Because of the economic difficulties revealed by the War of 1812 – lack of transportation infrastructure, manufacturing, uncontrolled banking – leading merchants and financiers, Stephen Girard, John Jacob Astor, David Parish – along with major Jeffersonian political leaders John C. Calhoun, Henry Clay, and James Monroe advocated re-establishing the Bank of the United States. A bill was proposed in January 1816 and signed by President Madison in April 1816. 7) Under its charter guidelines, the BUS was expected to acquire species totaling $28 million by the time it opened for business; but with only $2 million secured when it commenced operations, the Bank was compelled to purchase species at usurious rates from the London financial markets in 1817 and 1818, overburdening BUS credit. In addition by 20 February 1817 the Bank was supposed to resume Convertibility – that is a return to specie banking of BUS notes. This was delayed for political reasons. 8) The 18 branch offices of the BUS in 1817 operated with little oversight from the Philadelphia headquarters, nor from the US Treasury. Indeed, they poured gasoline on the fire by flooding the West with BUS issued notes. This had the effect of draining even more specie from the well run State Banks and some of the BUS branches in the Northeast. By July 1818, the Second Bank of the United States had demand liabilities exceeding $22.4 million, whereas its species fund stood at $2.4 million. unsustainable. This was simply 9) The Dam broke in August 1818 when William Jones ordered BUS branch offices to reject all state-chartered bank notes, with the exception of those used as revenue payments to the US Treasury. In October 1818, The US Treasury demanded a transfer of $2 million in species from the BUS to redeem bonds on the Louisiana Purchase. 10) State banks in the West and South, unable to provide the required specie, began to call in their loans on the heavily mortgaged lands they had financed. Cash poor farmers and speculators found their land values dropping 50% to 75%. Banks began foreclosing on the properties and transferring them to their creditor: the Second Bank of the United States. Adding to the problem was the fall in the price of Cotton on the London exchanges. The combination of these events produced the Panic of 1819 and plunged the USA into a Depression. 11) In 1819 Langdon Cheves was elected President of the BUS, and during the next three years succeeded in restoring its credit through a rigorous tight money policy. The problem is that it deepened the Depression. Through public land debt relief legislation, Cheves managed to reduce the Bank’s land debt by $6 million within a year of assuming his position as BUS President. By 1821 specie reserves had risen to $8 million by 1821 and bank notes in circulation were reduced by about $23 million within a span of four years from 1816 – 1820. Langdon Cheves: President of the Second Bank of the United States from 1819-1822 Table 1a. The Inclusion of New States State Admitted Original 13 1787-1790 Vermont Kentucky Tennessee Ohio Louisiana Indiana Mississippi Illinois Alabama Maine Missouri 1791 1792 1796 1803 1812 1816 1817 1818 1819 1820 1821 Slavery Status See Notes Free Slave Slave Free Slave Free Slave Free Slave Free Slave Total Free States Total Slave States Population at Entry 7 6 3-4,000,000 8 8 8 9 9 10 10 11 11 12 12 6 7 8 8 9 9 10 10 11 11 12 92,329 103,133 77,638 100,984 91,926 98,115 62,205 46,625 116,016 298,335 73,973 US Population at Previous Census 3,929,214 3,929,214 3,929,214 5,308,483 7,239,881 7,239,881 7,239,881 7,239,881 7,239,881 9,638,459 9,638,459 Arkansas Michigan Florida Texas Iowa Wisconsin California Minnesota Oregon Kansas West Virginia Nevada Nebraska Colorado North Dakota South Dakota Montana Washington Idaho Wyoming Utah Oklahoma Arizona New Mexico Alaska Hawaii 1836 1837 1845 1845 1846 1848 1850 1858 1859 1861 1863 1864 1867 1876 1889 1889 1889 1889 1890 1890 1896 1907 1912 1912 1960 1960 Slave Free Slave Slave Free Free Free Free Free Free Free Free Free Free Free Free Free Free Free Free Free Free Free Free Free Free 12 13 13 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 13 13 14 15 15 15 15 15 15 15 15 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 70,700 158,079 70,961 212,592 132,573 360,577 92,597 138,834 48,428 132,925 296,286 21,111 94,747 132,542 175,576 323,567 132,548 329,020 88,548 62,555 250,361 1,396,900 230,000 333,600 226,000 633,000 12,886,020 12,886,020 17,069,453 17,069,453 17,069,453 17,069,453 23,191,876 23,191,876 23,191,876 31,443,321 31,443,321 31,443,321 31,443,321 39,818,449 50,155,783 50,155,783 50,155,783 50,155,783 62,947,714 62,947,714 62,947,714 75,994,575 91,972,266 91,972,266 178,464,236 178,464,236 Notes: In 1776, slavery had been abolished in only 2 of the original 13 states. By 1849, it had been abolished in all of the 7 “free” states among the original 13. However, abolition was often restricted only to those born after a certain date. In 1860, 18 slaves remained in New Jersey, a “free” state. (Freehling, 1990, pp. 133, 480). Slavery also existed in the form of “black apprentices” in the “free” states. Apprentices continued in Illinois until 1824 (Freehling, 1990, p. 149). President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 freed slaves only in Confederate states but, for simplicity, all states are treated as “Free” beginning in 1864. Slavery was ended in all of the United States by the 13th amendment, ratified 18 December 1865. Source for population figures, Stewart and Weingast, 1992, p. 256, Morison and Commager, 1950, p. 790.