History, Gravity and International Finance
37 Pages Posted: 19 Sep 2012
Date Written: September 3, 2012
We analyze persistence in patterns of bilateral financial investment using data on US investors’ holdings of foreign bonds. We document a 'history effect' in which the pattern of holdings seven decades ago continues to influence holdings today. 10 to 15% of the cross-country variation in US investors’ foreign bond holdings is explained by holdings 70 years ago, plausibly reflecting fixed costs of market entry and exit. This effect is twice as large for bonds denominated in currencies other than the dollar, suggesting the existence of even higher fixed costs of initiating US foreign investment in currencies other than the dollar. Our findings point to history and path dependence as key sources of financial market segmentation.
Keywords: gravity model, international finance, geography of asset holdings, persistence, hysteresis, international role of the dollar
JEL Classification: F30, N20
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation