Margins of international banking: Is there a productivity pecking order in banking, too?
Bundesbank Discussion Paper 12/2009,
Modern trade theory emphasizes firm-level productivity differentials to explain
the cross-border activities of non-financial firms. This study tests whether a
productivity pecking order also determines international banking activities. Using
a novel dataset that contains all German banks’ international activities, we
estimate the ordered probability of a presence abroad (extensive margin) and the
volume of international assets (intensive margin). Methodologically, we enrich the
conventional Heckman selection model to account for the self-selection of banks
into different modes of foreign activities using an ordered probit. Four main
findings emerge. First, similar to results for non-financial firms, a productivity
pecking order drives bank internationalization. Second, only a few non-financial
firms engage in international trade, but many banks hold international assets, and
only a few large banks engage in foreign direct investment. Third, in addition to
productivity, risk factors matter for international banking. Fourth, gravity-type
variables have an important impact on international banking activities.
Financial constraints and the margins of FDI
Bundesbank Discussion Paper 29/2009,
Recent literature on multinational firms has stressed the importance of low productivity as a barrier to the cross-border expansion of firms. But firms may also need external finance to shoulder the costs of entering foreign markets. We develop a model of multinational firms facing real and financial barriers to foreign direct investment (FDI), and we analyze their impact on the FDI decision (the extensive margin) and foreign affiliate sales (the intensive margin). We provide empirical evidence based on a detailed dataset of German multinationals which contains information on parent-level and affiliate-level financial constraints as well as about the location the foreign affiliates. We find that financial factors constrain firms’ foreign investment decisions, an effect felt in particular by large firms. Financial constraints at the parent level matter for the extensive, but less
so for the intensive margin. For the intensive margin, financial constraints at the affiliate level are relatively more important.
Low Skill but High Volatility?
CESifo Working Paper No. 2665,
Globalization may impose a double-burden on low-skilled workers. On the one hand, the relative supply of low-skilled labor increases. This suppresses wages of low-skilled workers and/or increases their unemployment rates. On the other hand, low-skilled workers typically face more limited access to financial markets than high-skilled workers. This limits their ability to smooth shocks to income intertemporally and to share risks across borders. Using cross-country, industry-level data for the years 1970 - 2004, we document how the volatility of hours worked and of wages of workers at different skill levels has changed over time. We develop a stylized theoretical model that is consistent with the empirical evidence, and we test the predictions of the model. Our results show that greater financial globalization and development increases the volatility of employment, and this effect is strongest for low-skilled workers. A higher share of low-skilled employment has a dampening impact.
Cross-Border Bank Contagion in Europe
International Journal of Central Banking,
We analyze cross-border contagion among European banks in the period from January 1994 to January 2003. We use a multinomial logit model to estimate, in a given country, the number of banks that experience a large shock on the same day (“coexceedances”) as a function of common shocks and lagged coexceedances in other countries. Large shocks are measured by the bottom 95th percentile of the distribution of the daily percentage change in distance to default of banks.We find evidence of significant cross-border contagion among large European banks, which is consistent with a tiered cross-border interbank structure. The results also suggest that contagion increased after the introduction of the euro.
Exchange Rates and FDI: Goods versus Capital Market Frictions
Changes in exchange rates affect countries through their impact on cross-border activities such as trade and foreign direct investment (FDI). With increasing activities of multinational firms, the FDI channel is likely to gain in importance. Economic theory provides two main explanations why changes in exchange rates can affect FDI. According to the first explanation, FDI reacts to exchange rate changes if there are information frictions on capital markets and if investment depends on firms’ net worth (capital market friction hypothesis). According to the second explanation, FDI reacts to exchange rate changes if output and factor markets are segmented, and if firm-specific assets are important (goods market friction hypothesis). We provide a unified theoretical framework of these two explanations. We analyse the implications of the model empirically using a dataset based on detailed German firm-level data. We find greater support for the goods market than for the capital market friction hypothesis.
Do Weak Supervisory Systems Encourage Bank Risk-taking?
Journal of Financial Stability,
Weak bank supervision could give banks the ability to shift risk from themselves to supervisors. We use cross-border bank mergers as a natural experiment to test changes in risk and the impact of supervision. We examine cross-border bank mergers and find that the supervisory structures of the partners’ countries influence changes in post-merger total risk. An acquirer from a country with strong supervision lowers total risk after a cross-border merger. However, total risk increases when the target bank is located in a country with relatively strong supervision. This result is consistent with strong host regulators limiting the risky activities of their local banks. Foreign-owned competitors could then engage in the risky projects, especially if the foreign banks’ supervisors are not strong. An acquirer entering a country with strong supervision appears to shift risk back to its home country. The results suggest that bank supervisors can reduce total banking risk in their countries by being strong.
The Euro and Cross-Border Banking: Evidence from Bilateral Data
Comparative Economic Studies,
Has the introduction of the Euro fostered financial integration in Europe? We answer this question using a data set of banks’ bilateral foreign assets and liabilities provided by the Bank for International Settlements. The data cover the pre-Euro period (1995–1998) and the post-Euro period (1999–2005). We use information from 10 OECD reporting countries and all OECD recipient countries. Gravity regressions show a positive and significant impact of the Euro on bilateral financial linkages. This effect is stronger and more robust for banks’ foreign assets than for their foreign liabilities.
FDI versus exports: Evidence from German banks
Journal of Banking and Finance,
We use a new bank-level dataset to study the FDI-versus-exports decision for German banks. We extend the literature on multinational firms in two directions. First, we simultaneously study FDI and the export of cross-border financial services. Second, we test recent theories on multinational firms which show the importance of firm heterogeneity [Helpman, E., Melitz, M.J., Yeaple, S.R., 2004. Export versus FDI. American Economic Review 94 (1), 300–316]. Our results show that FDI and cross-border services are complements rather than substitutes. Heterogeneity of banks has a significant impact on the internationalization decision. More profitable and larger banks are more likely to expand internationally than smaller banks. They have more extensive foreign activities, and they are more likely to engage in FDI in addition to cross-border financial services.
Cross-border Bank Contagion in Europe
ECB Working Paper, No. 662,
This paper analyses cross-border contagion in a sample of European banks from January 1994 to January 2003. We use a multinomial logit model to estimate the number of banks in a given country that experience a large shock on the same day (“coexceedances“) as a function of variables measuring common shocks and lagged coexceedances in other countries. Large shocks are measured by the bottom 95th percentile of the distribution of the daily percentage change in the distance to default of the bank. We find evidence in favour of significant cross-border contagion. We also find some evidence that since the introduction of the euro cross-border contagion may have increased. The results seem to be very robust to changes in the specification.
Cross-border Banking and Transmission Mechanisms in Europe: Evidence from German Data
Applied Financial Economics,
International activities of commercial banks play a potential role for the transmission of shocks across countries. This paper presents stylized facts of the integration of European banking markets and analyses the potential of banks to transmit shocks across countries. Although the openness of banking systems has increased, bilateral financial linkages among EU countries are relatively small. The exceptions are claims of German banks on a number of smaller countries. These data are used for an analysis of the determinants of cross-border lending patterns.