Banking Crises without Panics

Matthew Baron, Emil Verner, Wei Xiong

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


We examine historical banking crises through the lens of bank equity declines, which cover a broad sample of episodes of banking distress with and without banking panics. To do this, we construct a new data set on bank equity returns and narrative information on banking panics for 46 countries over the period of 1870 to 2016. We find that even in the absence of panics, large bank equity declines are associated with substantial credit contractions and output gaps. Although panics are an important amplification mechanism, our results indicate that panics are not necessary for banking crises to have severe economic consequences. Furthermore, panics tend to be preceded by large bank equity declines, suggesting that panics are the result, rather than the cause, of earlier bank losses. We use bank equity returns to uncover a number of forgotten historical banking crises and create a banking crisis chronology that distinguishes between bank equity losses and panics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)51-113
Number of pages63
JournalQuarterly Journal of Economics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Economics and Econometrics


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