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Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.)
Federal Reserve Bulletin
Global integration in the banking industry
Allen N. Berger
David C. Smith

Lowered regulatory barriers and advances in technology have reduced the cost of supplying banking services across borders. At the same time, growth in activity by multinational corporations has increased the demand for international financial services. As a result, many observers believe that global integration is under way in the banking industry, that banks are expanding their reach across borders, and that many banking markets will therefore develop large foreign components. The authors report on a study conducted by them, along with Qinglei Dai and Steven Ongena, that examined the nationality and international reach of banks that provide short-term financial services across Europe to affiliates of multinational corporations. The present article also looks at time-series data that provide a more recent look at the progress of integration in Europe. Based on a 1996 survey of more than 2,000 affiliates, the study found that an affiliate is most likely to choose a bank headquartered in the nation in which it is operating (a host-nation bank) rather than a bank headquartered in the home country of the affiliate or in a third nation. The affiliate is also more likely to select a bank limited to local or regional operations rather than one with global reach. The findings are consistent with the proposition that affiliates most value a bank that understands the culture, business practices, and regulatory conditions of the country in which the affiliate operates, and that host-nation banks possess a competitive advantage over other banks in this regard. The time-series data--on syndicated loans, foreign bank claims, and the dispersion of consumer goods prices across Europe--are also consistent with the picture drawn from the 1996 survey. The article concludes that banking markets evidently need not become more integrated even as economic activity otherwise becomes increasingly global.

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Allen N. Berger & David C. Smith, "Global integration in the banking industry" , Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.), Federal Reserve Bulletin, issue Nov, pages 451-460, 2003.
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Keywords: Banks and banking ; International finance
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