In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, New York State trust companies were successful, grew quickly, and failed rarely. The few failures, however, played a leading role in shaping the rules that governed trust companies. Because trust company failures were consistently interpreted as isolated departures from the norm of conservative management, trust companies were able to continue to participate in the rule-making process. The institutions that evolved promoted financial stability by imposing the costs of failure on decision makers and discouraging risky behavior. These failures shed new light on the treatment of failure and the development of corporate governance and financial regulation in the United States
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