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date: 20 April 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The US economy developed from an agricultural one mired in debt to an engine of growth between 1790 and 1913. The nation’s bourgeoning financial system was at the heart of this transformation. Growing from three banks in 1790 to more than 22,000 in 1913, the United States became the worldwide leader in private banking. This path, however, was not always smooth, and experiments with various forms of money creation and regulation subjected the nation to periodic panics. Despite a number of missteps, the approach led to financial development and monetary stability. We review this history and key research that defines the literature. Topics include early central banking, free banking, the National Banking System, and the founding of the Federal Reserve. We also offer a guide to areas that now generate considerable research interest, including finance and growth, the roles of banks and other intermediaries, crises, and the rise of deposits.

Keywords: US economy, banking, finance, National Banking System, Federal Reserve

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