Panic of 1857

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The Panic of 1857 originated in a prior boom which lasted five years, from 1852 to 1857, and which rested on widespread credit expansion of worldwide consequences. Prices, profits and nominal wages rose, and a stock market boom took place. The boom especially favored mining companies and railroad construction companies (the most important capital goods industries of the period). Moreover speculation became generalized. The first signs of the end of the boom appeared with the start of the decline in mining and railroad profits (the stages furthest from consumption); and the increase in production costs weakened profits further. Subsequently the slowdown impacted the iron, steel and coal industries and the crisis hit. It spread quickly, triggering a worldwide depression. August 22, 1857 was a day of true panic in New York and many banks suspended their operations.[1]

In contrast to the panic of 1837–43, it was mild and quick. The pressure for money passed away in the course of the winter. The liquidation was rapid, and by spring business was again in motion. The New York banks resumed on the 12th of December, and others followed gradually and informally.[2]


  1. Jesús Huerta de Soto. "Money, Bank Credit, and Economic Cycles", Second English edition 2009, p.484-485. Referenced 2011-01-15.
  2. H.A. Scott Trask. William Graham Sumner: Monetary Theorist (pdf), The Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics, Vol.8, No. 2 (Summer 2005). Referenced 2011-01-15.