International banking and transmission of the 1931 financial crisis

Authors:
OLIVIER ACCOMINOTTI
Published Online:
26 Jun 2018
DOI:
10.1111/ehr.12736
Volume/Issue No:
Early View Articles

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Abstract

In May to July 1931, a series of financial panics shook central Europe before spreading to the rest of the world. This article explores the role of cross‐border banking linkages in propagating the central European crisis to Britain and the US. Using archival bank‐level data, the article documents US and British banks’ exposure to central European frozen credits in 1931. Central European lending was mostly done by large and diversified commercial banks in the US and by small and geographically specialized merchant banks/acceptance houses in Britain. Differences in the organization of international bank lending explain why the central European crisis disturbed few US banks but endangered many British financial institutions.

© Economic History Society 2018

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