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Banking crises properly defined consist either of panics or waves of costly bank failures. These phenomena were rare historically compared to the present. A historical analysis of the two phenomena (panics and waves of failures) reveals that they do not always coincide, are not random events, cannot be seen as the inevitable result of human nature or the liquidity transforming structure of bank balance sheets, and do not typically accompany business cycles or monetary policy errors. Rather, risk-inviting microeconomic rules of the banking game that are established by government have always been the key additional necessary condition to producing a propensity for banking distress, whether in the form of a high propensity for banking panics or a high propensity for waves of bank failures.
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