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The role of foreign banks in post-crisis Asia: the importance of method of entry

  • Montgomery, Heather

This study examines the role of foreign banks in post-crisis Asia, focusing particularly on the four countries most affected by the Asian Crisis of 1997 - Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia and Thailand. First, using data on the presence of foreign banks via branching as well as subsidiaries, the study shows that the presence of foreign banks in the four crisis-hit countries is actually much larger than has been previously reported once the presence of foreign branches is accounted for in the data. However, the percentage of assets controlled by foreign banks in Asia is still lower than that of other emerging economies, despite great increases in the post-crisis period. The author reviews regulations on foreign bank entry that may have limited the presence of foreign banks or influenced the method of entry (branching versus subsidiary). Given recent regulatory changes and the need for bank recapitalization in the region, the presence of foreign banks is expected to increase in the near future, so this study next takes up the policy implications of this trend. To date, foreign banks in most Asian countries appear to perform relatively worse than their domestic counterparts as measured by return on equity, cost to income ratios, and the ratio of problem loans to total loans. This finding contradicts previous research in other emerging economies, and may be due to the fact that foreign bank entry in Asia is still a very recent phenomenon, and has occurred mostly through the takeover of troubled banks in the region. The second policy issue examined here is the stability of lending by foreign banks relative to domestic banks. Macroeconomic data suggests that foreign bank lending may in some cases be more stable than domestic bank lending, particularly during crisis, but that the stability of foreign bank lending varies greatly by method of entry. Cross border claims of foreign banks are the most volatile, followed by foreign bank branch lending. Lending by foreign bank subsidiaries capitalized in the host country appear to be more stable than domestic lending, perhaps providing much needed capital during times of crisis. Therefore, foreign banks play an important role in Asia, not only in the traditional ways by providing new services and stimulating competition and efficiency, but also by contributing to stability of the banking sector in the face of macroeconomic fluctuations. However, the mode of foreign entry seems to have important implications for the contributions of foreign banks. Since lending by off-shore banks and foreign bank branches seems to be more volatile than locally capitalized foreign subsidiaries, policy makers in Asia should encourage foreign players to enter via fully-owned subsidiaries or joint ventures and move away from the previous pattern of branch-based entry.

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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 33031.

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Date of creation: Jan 2003
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:33031
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  1. Lee, Chung H., 1996. "Financial deregulation and integration in East Asia : edited by Takatoshi Ito and Anne O. Krueger, NBER-East Asia Seminar on Economics VoL 5, Chicago and London: National Bureau of Economic Research a," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 7(4), pages 785-787.
  2. Hasegawa, Toshiaki, 1993. "Commercial banking in the United States: Japanese Commercial banks' presence," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 4(2), pages 419-428.
  3. Takatoshi Ito & Anne O. Krueger, 1996. "Introduction to "Financial Deregulation and Integration in East Asia, NBER-EASE Volume 5"," NBER Chapters, in: Financial Deregulation and Integration in East Asia, NBER-EASE Volume 5, pages 1-5 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Linda S. Goldberg, 2001. "When is U.S. bank lending to emerging markets volatile?," Staff Reports 119, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  5. Clarke, George R. G. & Cull, Robert & D'Amato, Laura & Molinari, Andrea, 1999. "The effect of foreign entry on Argentina's domestic banking sector," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2158, The World Bank.
  6. Linda Goldberg & B. Gerard Dages & Daniel Kinney, 2000. "Foreign and Domestic Bank Participation in Emerging Markets: Lessons from Mexico and Argentina," NBER Working Papers 7714, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Stewart R Miller & Arvind Parkhe, 1998. "Patterns in the Expansion of U.S. Banks' Foreign Operations," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 29(2), pages 359-388, June.
  8. Adolfo Barajas & Natalia Salazar & Roberto Steiner, 1999. "Foreign Investment in Colombia's Financial Sector," IMF Working Papers 99/150, International Monetary Fund.
  9. Robert N. McCauley & Stephen Yeaple, 1994. "How lower Japanese asset prices affect Pacific financial markets," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, issue Spr, pages 19-33.
  10. Claudia M. Buch, 1999. "Why Do Banks Go Abroad? ; Evidence from German Data," Kiel Working Papers 948, Kiel Institute for the World Economy.
  11. Clarke, George & Cull, Robert & Martinez Peria, Maria Soledad & Sanchez, Susana M., 2001. "Foreign bank entry - experience, implications for developing countries, and agenda for further research," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2698, The World Bank.
  12. Daniel E. Nolle & Rama Seth, 1996. "Do banks follow their customers abroad?," Research Paper 9620, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  13. Yamori, Nobuyoshi, 1998. "A note on the location choice of multinational banks: The case of Japanese financial institutions," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 109-120, January.
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