The choice between foreign direct investment (FDI) and exports has been a recurrent theme in the literature on international trade, yet few studies have analysed this choice at the level of the individual firm. This paper uses a new dataset to study the FDI-versus-exports decision for banks. We use data on the foreign direct investment stocks and the cross-border provision of financial services of German banks for the period 1997-2000 to describe the regional pattern of banks’ international activities. We find that country- and bank-specific variables capturing size have a major impact on banks’ foreign activities. The results are consistent with the hypothesis that the realisation of economies of scale and the provision of trade-related finance shape globalisation patterns. Greater cultural and geographical distance, by contrast, potentially limit the international expansion of banks. Our results also suggest that FDI and cross-border services are complements rather than substitutes.


Claudia M. Buch

Vizepräsidentin der Deutschen Bundesbank

Alexander Lipponer

Leiter der Abteilung Internationale Währungsordnung, Deutsche Bundesbank


29.07.2004 | 16.00 - 17.30 Uhr


ZEW, L 7,1 D-68161 Mannheim