The Determinants of Multinational Banking during the First Globalization, 1870–1914
What determined the multinational expansion of European banks in the pre-1914 era of globalization? And how were banks’ foreign investments related to other facets of the globalizing world economy such as trade and capital flows? The paper reviews both the contemporary and historical literature, and empirically investigates these issues by using an original panel data based on a sample of more than 50 countries. The dependent variable, aiming at measuring the intensity of cross-border activities operated by banks from foreign locations, is the number of foreign branches and subsidiaries of British, French and German banks. Explanatory variables are mainly selected on the base of the eclectic theory of multinational banking, but also include geographical factors (as suggested by gravity models) and institutional indicators advanced by recent studies inspired by new institutional economics, such as legal families and adherence to the Gold Standard. These regressors captures the impact of economic integration (trade and capital flows), informational development, institutional and economic characteristics of the host-market, as well as exchange rate and country risk factors, on banks’ foreign investment decisions. The results suggest that, due to its prevailing ‘colonial’ features, pre-1914 multinational banking does not fit easily into augmented gravity models. The role of trade as a key determinant of banks expansion overseas is qualified, and both institutional factors as well as competitive interaction emerge as critical determinants of banks’ decisions to invest in foreign countries. Moreover, the systematic comparison of determinants of foreign investiments of banks from major core countries reveals that multinational banking was not a homogenous phenomenon, as banks of different nationality responded differently to economic, geographical and institutional factors.
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- Portes, Richard & Rey, Helene & Oh, Yonghyup, 2001. "Information and capital flows: The determinants of transactions in financial assets," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 45(4-6), pages 783-796, May.
- Joël Métais, 1979. "Le processus de multinationalisation des grandes banques commerciales," Revue Économique, Programme National Persée, vol. 30(3), pages 487-517.
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