Using a new biography of banks, we examine the stability of Irish banking from 1797 to 1826 by constructing a failure rate series. We find that the ultimate cause of the frequent and severe banking crises was the crisis-prone structure of the banking system, which was designed to benefit the political elite. There is little evidence to suggest that wildcat banking or the failure of the Bank of Ireland to act as a lender of last resort were to blame. We also find that the main economic effect of the episodic crises was major diminutions in the money supply.
banking crisis bank failure Ireland partnership wildcat banking political economy of banking