Size, Productivity, and International Banking
Heterogeneity in size and productivity is central to models that explain which manufacturing firms export. This study presents descriptive evidence on similar heterogeneity among international banks as financial services providers. A novel and detailed bank-level data set reveals the volume and mode of international activities for all German banks. Only a few, large banks have a commercial presence abroad, consistent with the size pecking order documented for manufacturing firms. However, the relationship between internationalization and productivity also yields two inconsistencies with recent trade models. First, virtually all banks hold at least some foreign assets, irrespective of size or productivity. Second, some fairly unproductive banks maintain commercial presences abroad.