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British Investment Overseas 1870-1913: A Modern Portfolio Theory Approach

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  • William N. Goetzmann
  • Andrey Ukhov

Abstract

Many scholars have asked whether British investors benefited from overseas investment investing in the 19th century and whether this export of capital had negative effects. We re-visit the issue using modern portfolio theory. We examine the set of investment opportunities available to British investors, the developments in information transmission technology, and advances in financial and investment theory at the time. We use mean-variance optimization techniques ot take into account the risk and return characteristics of domestic and international investments available to a British investor, and to quantify the beneifts from international diversification. Evidence suggests that capital export was a consequence of both the opportunity and the understanding of diversification. foreign assets offered higher rates of return, but equally important, they offered significant diversification benefits. Even when--by setting expected return on each foreign asset class equal to that of the corresponding UK asset class--we put foreign assets at a disadvantage, we find that it was rational for a British investor to include foreign debts and equity in the portfolio.

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  • William N. Goetzmann & Andrey Ukhov, 2005. "British Investment Overseas 1870-1913: A Modern Portfolio Theory Approach," NBER Working Papers 11266, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11266 Note: AP IFM PR
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    Cited by:

    1. Bernal, Oscar & Oosterlinck, Kim & Szafarz, Ariane, 2010. "Observing bailout expectations during a total eclipse of the sun," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 29(7), pages 1193-1205, November.
    2. Grossman, Richard, 2017. "Stocks for the Long Run: New Monthly Indices of British Equities, 1869-1929," CEPR Discussion Papers 12121, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    3. Brian Mitchell & David Chambers & Nick Crafts, 2011. "How good was the profitability of British railways, 1870–1912?," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 64(3), pages 798-831, August.
    4. Chabot, Benjamin & Kurz, Christopher J., 2009. "That's Where the Money Was: Foreign Bias and English Investment Abroad, 1866-1907," Working Papers 64, Yale University, Department of Economics.
    5. Chambers, David & Esteves, Rui, 2014. "The first global emerging markets investor: Foreign & Colonial Investment Trust 1880–1913," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 1-21.
    6. Campbell, Gareth, 2012. "Myopic rationality in a Mania," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 49(1), pages 75-91.
    7. Kevin Hjortshøj O'Rourke, 2012. "From Empire to Europe: Britain in the World Economy," Economics Series Working Papers Number 106, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    8. Acheson, Graeme G. & Campbell, Gareth & Turner, John D., 2016. "Common law and the origin of shareholder protection," eabh Papers 16-03, The European Association for Banking and Financial History (EABH).
    9. Turner, John D., 2014. "Financial history and financial economics," QUCEH Working Paper Series 14-03, Queen's University Belfast, Queen's University Centre for Economic History.
    10. Guillaume Daudin & Matthias Morys & Kevin H. O'rourke, 2008. "Europe and Globalization, 1870-1914," Sciences Po publications 2008-17, Sciences Po.
    11. Crafts, Nicholas & Leunig, Tim & Mulatu, Abay, 2007. "Were British railway companies well-managed in the early twentieth century?," Economic History Working Papers 22549, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
    12. Crafts, Nicholas, 2012. "British relative economic decline revisited: The role of competition," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 49(1), pages 17-29.
    13. Crafts, Nicholas, 2011. "British Relative Economic Decline Revisited," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 42, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    14. William Goetzmann & Simon Huang, 2015. "Momentum in Imperial Russia," NBER Working Papers 21700, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. Grossman, Richard, 2017. "Beresford's Revenge: British equity holdings in Latin America, 1869-1929," CEPR Discussion Papers 12042, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    16. Braggion, Fabio & Moore, Lyndon, 2013. "The Economic Benefits of Political Connections in Late Victorian Britain," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 73(01), pages 142-176, March.
    17. Acheson, Graeme G. & Campbell, Gareth & Turner, John D., 2015. "Who financed the expansion of the equity market? Shareholder clienteles in Victorian Britain," QUCEH Working Paper Series 15-07, Queen's University Belfast, Queen's University Centre for Economic History.
    18. Nicholas Crafts, 2010. "Cliometrics and technological change: a survey," The European Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 17(5), pages 1127-1147.
    19. Hugh Goldsmith, 2014. "The Long-Run Evolution of Infrastructure Services," CESifo Working Paper Series 5073, CESifo Group Munich.
    20. Rui P. Esteves, 2011. "The Political Economy of Global Financial Liberalisation in Historical Perspective," Oxford University Economic and Social History Series _089, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
    21. Burhop, Carsten & Chambers, David & Cheffins, Brian, 2014. "Regulating IPOs: Evidence from going public in London, 1900–1913," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 60-76.
    22. Campbell, Gareth & Rogers, Meeghan & Turner, John D., 2016. "The rise and decline of the UK's provincial stock markets, 1869-1929," QUCEH Working Paper Series 2016-03, Queen's University Belfast, Queen's University Centre for Economic History.

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    • F0 - International Economics - - General

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