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Railroad Bailouts in the Great Depression

Lyndon Moore and Gertjan Verdickt

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Abstract: The Reconstruction Finance Corporation and Public Works Administration loaned 50 U.S. railroads over $1.1 billion between 1932 and 1939. The government goal was to decrease the likelihood of bond defaults and increase employment. Bailouts had little effect on employment, instead they increased the average wage of their employees. Bailouts reduced leverage, but did not significantly impact bond default. Overall, bailing out railroads had little effect on their stock prices, but resulted in an increase in their bond prices and reduced the likelihood of ratings downgrades. We find some evidence that manufacturing firms located close to railroads benefited from bailout spillovers.

Date: 2022-05, Revised 2023-05
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-his and nep-reg
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Handle: RePEc:arx:papers:2205.13025