House Executive Documents

Author: Edward Samuel Lacey  | Date: 1895

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The Clearing-House System (1890–1893)



THE effect of a general monetary stringency is felt first and most seriously by banks located in the larger of the reserve cities. Whenever financial affairs are in a normal condition the surplus funds of the local banks find their way to the vaults of their correspondent banks located in the great centers of business activity. This is undoubtedly due in part to the fact that these deposits may be made available for lawful money reserve and that a small rate of interest is, as a rule, paid upon bank balances by associations in the larger cities, and to the further fact that the maintenance of a good balance with their city correspondents strengthens the claim of the interior banks upon the former for rediscounts when the temporary condition of redundancy passes away and the increased demand for money is greater than the interior banks from their resources can conveniently supply.

Thus it results that the wants of a continent in case of general depression are at last brought through various channels of business activity, by way of withdrawals or loans, to the bankers of the great metropolitan cities for relief, and they are presented in such a form, in many cases, as to preclude the possibility of refusal, if general bankruptcy is to be avoided.

During the period of the stringency [1890] . . . the cities of New York, Philadelphia, and Boston were subjected to the most pressing demands, and after very careful consideration it was decided by the associated banks that the exigency made necessary a resort to the issuing of clearing-house loan certificates, for the purpose of settling clearing-house balances. This expedient had been successfully resorted to during the panics of 1873 and 1884.

At a meeting of the New York Clearing-House Association, on the 11th day of November, 1890, the following resolution was unanimously adopted:

Resolved, That a committee of five be appointed by the chair, of which the chairman shall be one, to receive from hanks members of the association bills receivable and other securities, to be approved by said committee, who shall be authorized to issue therefor, to such depositing banks, loan certificates bearing interest at 6 per cent per annum, and in addition thereto a commission of one-quarter of 1 cent for every thirty days such certificates shall remain unpaid, and such loan certificates shall not be in excess of 75 per cent of the market value of the securities of bills receivable so deposited, and such certificates shall be received and paid in settlement of balances at the clearing house. . . .

These certificates were, by unanimous agreement upon the part of the clearing-house banks, accepted in lieu of money in the settlement of clearing-house balances.

In order to provide for the retirement of these securities in case the collaterals pledged were found insufficient, the several boards of directors of the associated banks were requested to, and did, pass a resolution in the following form:

Resolved, That any loss resulting from the issue of loan certificates shall be borne by the banks comprising the Clearing-House Association pro rata of capital and surplus, and this resolution shall be ratified by the boards of the respective banks, members of the association, and a certified copy of such consent delivered to the chairman of the loan committee.

, 52 Cong., 1 sess. (Washington, 1892), XXIV, No. 3. pt. 1. pp. 12–13 passim; 53 Cong., 2 sess. (Washington, 1895), XXIII, pt. i, No. 3, pt. 1, pp. 15–16 passim.


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Chicago: Edward Samuel Lacey, "The Clearing-House System (1890– 1893)," House Executive Documents in American History Told by Contemporaries, ed. Albert Bushnell Hart (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1903), Original Sources, accessed July 24, 2024,

MLA: Lacey, Edward Samuel. "The Clearing-House System (1890– 1893)." House Executive Documents, Vol. XXIII, in American History Told by Contemporaries, edited by Albert Bushnell Hart, Vol. 4, New York, The Macmillan Company, 1903, Original Sources. 24 Jul. 2024.

Harvard: Lacey, ES, 'The Clearing-House System (1890– 1893)' in House Executive Documents. cited in 1903, American History Told by Contemporaries, ed. , The Macmillan Company, New York. Original Sources, retrieved 24 July 2024, from