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International Diversification Gains and Home Bias in Banking

  • Alicia García-Herrero
  • Francisco F. Vázquez

This paper assembles a bank-level dataset covering the operations of 38 international banks from eight industrial countries and their subsidiaries overseas during 1995-2004, and studies the extent of diversification gains from their local operations abroad. The paper finds that international banks with a larger share of assets allocated to foreign subsidiaries, particularly to those located in emerging market countries, are able to attain higher risk-adjusted returns. These gains are somewhat reduced- but by no means depleted-when international banks concentrate their subsidiaries in specific geographical regions. The paper also finds a substantial home bias in the international allocation of bank assets, relative to the results of a mean-variance portfolio optimization model. Overall, international diversification gains in banking appear to be substantial, albeit largely unexploited by current bank expansion strategies. These results suggest that international diversification gains could usefully be considered in the second pillar of Basel II as the first pillar is based only on the idiosyncratic risk of recipient countries.

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Paper provided by International Monetary Fund in its series IMF Working Papers with number 07/281.

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Length: 29
Date of creation: 01 Dec 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:imf:imfwpa:07/281
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  1. Kenneth R. French & James M. Poterba, 1991. "Investor Diversification and International Equity Markets," NBER Working Papers 3609, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1998. "The Quality of Government," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1847, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  3. Barth, James R. & Caprio Jr., Gerard & Levine, Ross, 2001. "Bank regulation and supervision : what works best?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2725, The World Bank.
  4. Claudia M. Buch & John C. Driscoll & Charlotte Ostergaard, 2010. "Cross-Border Diversification in Bank Asset Portfolios," International Finance, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 13(1), pages 79-108, 03.
  5. Acharya, Viral V & Hasan, Iftekhar & Saunders, Anthony, 2002. "The Effects of Focus and Diversification on Bank Risk and Return: Evidence from Individual Bank Loan Portfolios," CEPR Discussion Papers 3252, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Evelyn Hayden & Daniel Porath & Natalja Westernhagen, 2007. "Does Diversification Improve the Performance of German Banks? Evidence from Individual Bank Loan Portfolios," Journal of Financial Services Research, Springer, vol. 32(3), pages 123-140, December.
  7. Harry Markowitz, 1952. "Portfolio Selection," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 7(1), pages 77-91, 03.
  8. Lessard, Donald R, 1973. "International Portfolio Diversification: A Multivariate Analysis for a Group of Latin American Countries," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 28(3), pages 619-33, June.
  9. Levy, Haim & Sarnat, Marshall, 1970. "International Diversification of Investment Portfolios," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 60(4), pages 668-75, September.
  10. Diamond, Douglas W, 1984. "Financial Intermediation and Delegated Monitoring," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 51(3), pages 393-414, July.
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