Research Discussion Paper – RDP1999-06 Two Depressions, One Banking Collapse Abstract

The depression of the 1890s in Australia was associated with the collapse of the banking system, whereas problems in the financial system during the 1930s depression were far less severe. This is despite the fact that the initial macroeconomic shock during the 1930s depression was at least as large as that during the 1890s depression. We show that variation in the performance of the financial sector during the two depressions was due to differences in the condition of the financial sector well before each depression. Differences in real external factors and government policies were not sufficient to explain variation in the performance of the financial sector.