Panic in Paradise is a comprehensive study of bank loan failures during the Florida land boom of the mid-1920s, during the years preceding the stock market crash of 1929. Florida and Georgia experienced a banking panic in 1926 when in a ten-day period in July, after uncontrollable depositor runs, 117 banks closed in the two states. Uninsured depositors lost millions, and several suicides followed the financial havoc. During the crisis in Florida bank assets fell more than $300 million in 1926 alone, and between 1926 and 1929, they declined from $943 million to $375 million. The banking debacle has been blamed on the collapse of the Florida land boom. It was believed that the precipitous drop in real estate values created a regional recession that caused the banks to fail. Bankers were not regarded as the problem. In fact, they were defended by bank regulators, who blamed the crisis on the public. Banks that operated prudently during this period survived the deceleration of the land boom. But many bankers looted the financial institutions they pledged to protect. They tried to get rich by wildly speculating with depositors' money. When their schemes failed, so did their banks. Using bank records that had been legally sealed for almost 70 years, Vickers demonstrates that despite official disclaimers and previous historical accounts, virtually every bank failure that occurred in Florida and Georgia during 1926 involved massive insider abuses, a conscious conspiracy to defraud, or both. Regulatory secrecy permitted the banking debacle to grow beyond control as regulators concealed the magnitude of the problem. If depositors had known what banking officials knew, the panic would not haveoccurred. Depositors did not know the true condition of the banks because insider abuses and fraud were hidden by regulatory secrecy. Bank examiners reported the self-dealings to senior regulators, who passively watched the looting and withheld the truth from the depositors. Even wh
Publisher: The University of Alabama Press
Number of pages: 304
Weight: 708 g
Dimensions: 230 x 162 x 28 mm
"Excellent and detailed. . . . Reads almost like a fiction thriller." "Tampa Tribune""
"This dramatic and pioneering book . . . makes important contributions to Florida and American history [and] it is a well-written, compelling account that is given added veracity [because] Vickers forced reinterpretation of Florida s bank secrecy law. His book should find a place on the shelves of all Floridians interested in the colorful history of their state." "Tallahassee Democrat ""
This book is a story of mismanagement, fraud, government corruption, and cover-up in the banks of Florida and Georgia from 1926 to 1929. Vickers tells a classic tale of evil bankers deliberately channeling depositors funds into their own development projects while bribing government officials to help hide their crimes. One of the most interesting aspects of the book is the author s own role in putting the criminal away. An attorney, economic historian, and past assistant comptroller of the state of Florida, Vickers had to use all of his skills. . . . In addition to the usual problems, . . . the author faced the state controller s opinion that the release of the records was a crime. Vickers legal efforts and skillful use of publicity caused the reversal of that decision." "American Historical Review""