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Working Papers

June 2016, No. 16-07

In the Eye of a Storm: Manhattan's Money Center Banks during the International Financial Crisis of 1931

Gary Richardson and Patrick Van Horn

In 1931, a financial crisis began in Austria, spread to Germany, forced Britain to abandon the gold standard, crossed the Atlantic, and afflicted financial institutions in the United States. This article describes how banks in New York City, the central money market of the United States, reacted to this trans-Atlantic financial disturbance. An array of sources tells a consistent tale. Banks in New York anticipated events in Europe, prepared for them by accumulating substantial reserves, and during the crisis, continued business as usual. New York's leading bankers deliberately and collectively decided on the business-as-usual policy in order to minimize the impact of the panic in the United States.

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