Kansas’ experiment with private deposit insurance

Lee Davison and Carlos Ramirez in this FDIC research paper:

Between 1909 and 1922 a private deposit insurance company coexisted with the state-sponsored deposit insurance program in Kansas. This paper documents its development using primary sources. In addition, it examines if affiliation with the private deposit insurance (i) had an effect on risk-taking and the probability of failure; (ii) increased confidence among depositors, and (iii) was influenced by a neighboring bank’s membership in the state’s deposit insurance.

We find that affiliation with the private deposit insurance did not affect a bank’s likelihood of failure, although smaller national bank members did increase risk-taking. The evidence does not support the hypothesis that the company enhanced depositor confidence. Lastly, we do find strong evidence that a bank’s decision to join the private deposit insurance was influenced by neighboring banks’ affiliation with the Kansas deposit insurance program.

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