How Should We Bank With Foreigners? An Empirical Assessment of Lending Behaviour of International Banks to Six East Asian Countries
The possible crucial role of international bank lending in the transmission of adverse economic disturbance from advanced economies to emerging economies in the recent global financial crisis has once again placed this type of capital flows into sharper scrutiny both in academic and policy discussions. We construct macro-and micro-panel data on international bank lending to six Asian economies, viz., Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand, to analyze a number of objectives. We first examine the influence of a number of critical determinants not only to overall international bank lending but also to cross-border bank lending, and obtained one critical finding in this part of the study that cross-border lending by international banks tend to pull-out from host economies during difficult times in source economies, whereas such retrenchment are not evident on an aggregated basis. This may suggest that encouraging brick-and-mortar affiliates of international banks to ‘set up shop’ in recipient economies may be the judicious choice for these economies. We next critically examine the difference between subsidiaries and branches of international banks in terms of their ability to shield themselves from the financial difficulties of their global parent banks and thus their ability to continue lending in destination markets. According to our results, foreign bank subsidiaries are more capable in this regard. This finding carries with it the obvious attraction of favouring an organizational banking structure that is biased towards subsidiaries. However, national banking regulators should remember that apart from encouraging a host of other domestic and cross-border initiatives, encouraging the entry of brick-and mortar subsidiaries of international banks should not viewed as a panacea to the financial stability concerns not only in Asia but also across emerging markets in general.
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