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Fri Apr 12, 2013, 10:18 AM

The new wingnut theory of banking crises: the people did it!

The Wall Street Journal credulously reports on a new paper by Columbia B-school professor Charles Calomiris on why we have lots of banking crises while our friendly neighbors to the north don’t.

Calomiris says that we’ve had 16 systemic banking crises since 1790 while Canada has had none. Like, zero, according to the WSJ’s weirdly bad graphic:

I’m no expert on Canadian banking history, but is it true that they’ve never had a banking crisis? Calomiris himself writes that “Canadian banks, throughout their history, avoided systemic banking crises - with the exception of two short-lived suspensions of convertibility in 1837 and 1839 in response to crises originating in the United States.”

But there was also a severe financial crisis in 1907 where the government had to step into bail out banks, and ninety percent of Canadian banks were insolvent in the 1930s but held afloat by regulatory forbearance, according to Lawrence Kryzanowski and Gordon S. Roberts.

Ryan Chittum goes on to note that Canada also bailed out its banks in 2008, yet somehow Calamiris in his paper "The Crippling Influence of Populism in U.S. Banking History" is able to deliver whoppers like, "the stability of Canada’s banks was accomplished with little government intervention, either in the form of prudential regulation or assistance to distressed banks.”

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