System Working Paper 19-05

The Founding of the Federal Reserve, the Great Depression and the Evolution of the U.S. Interbank Network

Matthew Jaremski | Utah State University
David C. Wheelock | Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Published February 12, 2019

Financial network structure is an important determinant of systemic risk. This paper examines how the establishment of the Federal Reserve and Great Depression affected U.S. interbank network structure. Seeking liquidity sources, banks generally preferred to connect to Federal Reserve member banks in cities with Fed offices or clearinghouses. Overall network concentration declined initially as banks connected to Federal Reserve cities other than New York, but increased in the Depression. Banks that survived the Depression generally had higher percentages of connections to Federal Reserve cities and to correspondent banks that also survived.

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