Allan H. Meltzer, "A History of the Federal Reserve, Volume 1 1913–51", Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003.
In the 19th century the US economy was much more volatile than that of the British and other developing or developed countries. There was no central bank. There were frequent banking crises and financial crises with concomitant contractions in the monetary stock and in real output. Following the financial panic of 1907 and the particularly sharp downturn of 1908 (there were 240 ba