IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Who is afraid of political risk? Multinational firms and their choice of capital structure


  • Kesternich, Iris
  • Schnitzer, Monika


This paper investigates how multinational firms choose the capital structure of their foreign affiliates in response to political risk. We focus on two choice variables, the leverage and the ownership structure of the foreign affiliate, and we distinguish different types of political risk, such as expropriation, unreliable intellectual property rights and confiscatory taxation. In our theoretical analysis we find that, as political risk increases, the ownership share tends to decrease, whereas leverage can both increase or decrease, depending on the type of political risk. Using the Microdatabase Direct Investment of the Deutsche Bundesbank, we find supportive evidence for these different effects.

Suggested Citation

  • Kesternich, Iris & Schnitzer, Monika, 2009. "Who is afraid of political risk? Multinational firms and their choice of capital structure," Discussion Paper Series 1: Economic Studies 2009,02, Deutsche Bundesbank.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:bubdp1:7571

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Eaton, Jonathan & Fernandez, Raquel, 1995. "Sovereign debt," Handbook of International Economics,in: G. M. Grossman & K. Rogoff (ed.), Handbook of International Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 3, pages 2031-2077 Elsevier.
    2. Jonathan Thomas & Tim Worrall, 1994. "Foreign Direct Investment and the Risk of Expropriation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 61(1), pages 81-108.
    3. Buettner, Thiess & Overesch, Michael & Schreiber, Ulrich & Wamser, Georg, 2009. "Taxation and capital structure choice--Evidence from a panel of German multinationals," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 105(3), pages 309-311, December.
    4. Jensen, Michael C. & Meckling, William H., 1976. "Theory of the firm: Managerial behavior, agency costs and ownership structure," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 305-360, October.
    5. Mihir A. Desai & C. Fritz Foley & James R. Hines, 2004. "A Multinational Perspective on Capital Structure Choice and Internal Capital Markets," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 59(6), pages 2451-2487, December.
    6. Morck, Randall & Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert W., 1988. "Management ownership and market valuation," Scholarly Articles 29407535, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    7. Jack Mintz & Alfons J. Weichenrieder, 2005. "Taxation and the Financial Structure of German Outbound FDI," CESifo Working Paper Series 1612, CESifo Group Munich.
    8. Schnitzer, Monika, 2002. "Debt v. Foreign Direct Investment: The Impact of Sovereign Risk on the Structure of International Capital Flows," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 69(273), pages 41-67, February.
    9. Huizinga, Harry & Laeven, Luc & Nicodeme, Gaetan, 2008. "Capital structure and international debt shifting," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(1), pages 80-118, April.
    10. Konrad, Kai A. & Erik Lommerud, Kjell, 2001. "Foreign direct investment, intra-firm trade and ownership structure," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 45(3), pages 475-494, March.
    11. Elizabeth Asiedu & Hadi Salehi Esfahani, 2001. "Ownership Structure In Foreign Direct Investment Projects," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 83(4), pages 647-662, November.
    12. Muller, Thomas & Schnitzer, Monika, 2006. "Technology transfer and spillovers in international joint ventures," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(2), pages 456-468, March.
    13. Schnitzer, Monika, 1999. "Expropriation and control rights: A dynamic model of foreign direct investment," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 17(8), pages 1113-1137, November.
    14. Javorcik, Beata S. & Wei, Shang-Jin, 2009. "Corruption and cross-border investment in emerging markets: Firm-level evidence," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 28(4), pages 605-624, June.
    15. McConnell, John J. & Servaes, Henri, 1990. "Additional evidence on equity ownership and corporate value," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 595-612, October.
    16. Cameron,A. Colin & Trivedi,Pravin K., 2008. "Microeconometrics," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9787111235767, March.
    17. Short, Helen & Keasey, Kevin, 1999. "Managerial ownership and the performance of firms: Evidence from the UK," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 5(1), pages 79-101, March.
    18. Desai, Mihir A. & Fritz Foley, C. & Hines Jr., James R., 2008. "Capital structure with risky foreign investment," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(3), pages 534-553, June.
    19. Fama, Eugene F & Jensen, Michael C, 1983. "Separation of Ownership and Control," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 26(2), pages 301-325, June.
    20. Morck, Randall & Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert W., 1988. "Management ownership and market valuation : An empirical analysis," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(1-2), pages 293-315, January.
    21. Kobrin, Stephen J., 1980. "Foreign enterprise and forced divestment in LDCs," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 34(01), pages 65-88, December.
    22. Beck, Thorsten & Demirguc-Kunt, Asli & Levine, Ross, 1999. "A new database on financial development and structure," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2146, The World Bank.
    23. Thiess Büttner & Michael Overesch & Ulrich Schreiber & Georg Wamser, 2006. "Taxation and Capital Structure Choice – Evidence from a Panel of German Multinationals," CESifo Working Paper Series 1841, CESifo Group Munich.
    24. Monika Schnitzer, 1996. "Expropriation and Control Rights: A Dynamic Model of," Discussion Paper Serie A 515, University of Bonn, Germany.
    25. Eckhard Janeba, 2000. "Tax Competition When Governments Lack Commitment: Excess Capacity as a Countervailing Threat," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(5), pages 1508-1519, December.
    26. Demsetz, Harold, 1983. "The Structure of Ownership and the Theory of the Firm," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 26(2), pages 375-390, June.
    27. Eaton, Jonathan & Gersovitz, Mark, 1984. "A Theory of Expropriation and Deviations from Perfect Capital Mobility," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 94(373), pages 16-40, March.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    Multinational firms; political risk; capital structure; leverage; ownership structure; foreign affiliates;

    JEL classification:

    • G32 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Financing Policy; Financial Risk and Risk Management; Capital and Ownership Structure; Value of Firms; Goodwill
    • F21 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Investment; Long-Term Capital Movements
    • F23 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - Multinational Firms; International Business

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:zbw:bubdp1:7571. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (ZBW - German National Library of Economics). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.