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Globalization in the World of Finance: An Analytical History

Listed author(s):
  • Das Dilip K.


    (Professor of International Economics, School of Business, Conestoga College, Ontario, Canada)

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    One of the many definitions of financial globalization is integration of domestic financial system of a country with the global financial markets and institutions. Enabling framework of financial globalization essentially includes liberalization and deregulation of the domestic financial sector as well as liberalization of the capital account. As economies progressively integrate globally, pari passu the financial structures of markets and the world of finance change. Financial globalization cannot be considered a novel phenomenon. Trans-country capital movements are centuries old.The oil shock of 1973 and the collapse of the Bretton Woods system, both of these developments were momentous and were responsible for laying the foundation of the contemporary era of financial globalization. After the collapse of the Bretton Woods system, some middle-income developing economies began to liberalize and open up for greater capital mobility, while keeping an autonomous control over their monetary policy. Advances in IT and computer technology are cited as one of the most important factors driving and supporting financial globalization. Transnational corporations (TNCs) also helped in global financial integration. They expanded their networks by merging with or acquiring other national and international firms. The prime movers in financial globalization are governments, borrowers, investors, and financial institutions. Each one of these market participants propelled economies towards financial integration in a proactive manner.Financial globalization has caused dramatic changes in the structure of national and international capital markets. The most significant change in the capital markets was in the banking system, which went through a process of dis-intermediation. This was a market transformation of fundamental nature.Contagions and crises are the downsides of financial globalization. Economic and financial crises of the 1990s portend to the fact that financial globalization is not a win-win game, and that it can potentially lead to serious disorder and high cost in terms of bank failures, corporate bankruptcies, stock market turbulence, depletion of foreign exchange reserves, currency depreciation and increased fiscal burden. A unique characteristic of globalized financial markets is reversal of capital flows when market perception regarding the creditworthiness of the borrowing entity changes.Cross-country financial flows to the emerging market economies were low, at during the mid-1970s. They increased at a healthy clip during the decades of 1980s and 1990s, peaking in 1997. They suffered a sharp decline after that because of the Asian and Russian financial and economic crises. The composition of external capital underwent a dramatic transformation during this period. Official flows either stagnated or declined. As a result their relative significance in global capital flows dwindled. In their place, private capital flows became the major source of external finance for a good number of emerging market economies. FDI became an important and dependable source of finance for the emerging markets and other middle-income economies during the decade of the 1980s and 1990s. Portfolio investment in stocks and bond markets also increased substantially. Global institutional investors found this channel of investment functional and profitable. Mutual funds, insurance companies, and pension funds channeled large amounts through portfolio investment into the emerging market economies.As financial globalization progressed, presence of international financial intermediaries has expanded considerably. This applies more to international commercial banks than to investment banks, insurance companies and mutual funds. It is incorrect to say that their global expansion has been uniform because this has occurred unevenly. International bond issuance activity by emerging market economies recorded a sharp spurt in 1993. Emerging market economies began using ADRs and GDRs for raising capital from the global capital markets in 1990 in a small way.

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    Article provided by De Gruyter in its journal Global Economy Journal.

    Volume (Year): 6 (2006)
    Issue (Month): 1 (February)
    Pages: 1-25

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    Handle: RePEc:bpj:glecon:v:6:y:2006:i:1:n:2
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