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VINCULACIONES POLÍTICAS EN UN RÉGIMEN DE BANCA LIBRE: EL CASO DE LA CRISIS BANCARIA DE 1878 EN CHILE*

  • Ignacio Briones (a1)
Abstract

In 1878 Chile experienced a banking crisis which brought an end to the Chilean free-banking period based on convertibility initiated in 1860. Using monthly bank balance sheets and other primary sources, I analyze the period and argue that one important explanation for the crisis was the growing relationship between banks and government through state loans to finance fiscal deficits and privileges to the issuing banks. I claim that the crisis emerged from a large bank loan in late 1877 which induced over-issuance and depreciation expectations leading, logically, to a bank run. The Chilean case provides valuable evidence of an element frequently neglected by the free-banking literature: the links between banks and government.

En 1878 un pánico bancario pone fin al periodo de banca libre basado en la convertibilidad metálica e iniciado en Chile en 1860. En este trabajo analizo el periodo apoyándome en los balances mensuales de bancos y otras fuentes primarias. Argumento que una causa importante de la crisis fue la creciente relación entre banca y gobierno a través de préstamos al Estado y privilegios a los bancos de emisión. Muestro que la crisis se asocia con un importante préstamo con los bancos a fines de 1877. Sostengo que éste inducía a la sobreemisión y a expectativas de depreciación cuyo resultado racional era una corrida bancaria. El caso chileno proporciona evidencia valiosa sobre un elemento que ha recibido relativa poca importancia en la literatura de banca libre: los vínculos entre bancos y gobierno.

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The author is very grateful to the Editor of the Journal of Iberian and Latin American Economic History and three anonymous referees for their valuable comments and suggestions.

a

School of Government, Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez, Avenida Diagonal las Torres, 2640, Peñalolén, Santiago, Chile. Phone: (56-2)23311361. Email: ignacio.briones@uai.cl

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Revista de Historia Economica - Journal of Iberian and Latin American Economic History
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