Walter Bagehot was the author of the seminal 1873 book on banking Lombard Street: A Description of the Money Market (read online, buy), which seems often to be taken as a justification for the present monetary orthodoxy, including the actions of central banks:

I know it will be said that in this work I have pointed out a deep malady, and only suggested a superficial remedy. I have tediously insisted that the natural system of banking is that of many banks keeping their own cash reserve, with the penalty of failure before them if they neglect it. I have shown that our system is that of a single bank keeping the whole reserve under no effectual penalty of failure. And yet I propose to retain that system, and only attempt to mend and palliate it.

via Bagehot’s REAL opinion » The Cobden Centre.

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