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Book Sections Year : 2014

The Crisis of 1866


The collapse of Overend Gurney and the ensuing crisis of 1866 was a turning point in British financial history: this was the last time a serious disruption took place in the London money market until 2007-8. The achievement of relative stability was due to the Bank’s willingness to offer generous assistance to the market in a crisis, combined with an elaborate system for discouraging moral hazard. The Bank’s assistance was not anonymous because it monitored the names on its discounted bills. When Overend Gurney sought extraordinary assistance from the Bank, their request was refused on the grounds that the bills offered did not comply with standard eligibility rules. The Bank’s refusal forced Overend to suspend payments and there was a general panic in the market. The Bank responded by lending freely and raising Bank rate to very high levels. The new policy was crucial in allowing for the establishment of sterling as an international currency. When in 1890 Baring Bros got into trouble, however, the Bank reacted differently and set up a bailout of the failing institution. Such such a contrasting attitude was dictated by the dissimilar position occupied by Overends (a bill broker) and Barings (an accepting house) within the London money market.
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hal-01293925 , version 1 (25-03-2016)



Marc Flandreau, Stefano Ugolini. The Crisis of 1866. Nicholas Dimsdale, Anthony Hotson. British Financial Crises since 1825, Oxford University Press, pp.76-93, 2014, 9780199688661. ⟨10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199688661.003.0005⟩. ⟨hal-01293925⟩
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