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The Many Forms of International Investment. The international integration of capital and commodity markets goes further and runs deeper now than ever before. (Michael Bordo, Barry Eichengreen, and Douglas Irwin). The Goals of this Chapter.

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The many forms of international investment l.jpg

The Many Forms of International Investment

The international integration of capital and commodity markets goes further and runs deeper now than ever before.

(Michael Bordo, Barry Eichengreen, and Douglas Irwin)


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The Goals of this Chapter

  • Detail the principal types of international investment flows and their recent growth.

  • Discuss the reasons why firms operate in more than one country and become MNEs.

  • Show how portfolio investment has grown in recent decades as governments liberalized investment flows and financial markets have developed.

  • Explain international banking and the growth of the eurocurrency markets.

  • Discuss foreign aid and the reasons why developed country governments have reduced their foreign aid transfers.


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Multi-National Enterprises (MNEs)

  • MNEs are involved in over three-fourths of all international trade.

  • MNEs account for a major portion of international investment.

  • MNE investments are categorized as Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).

  • There is extensive evidence that FDI is the international investment most likely to facilitate international technology transfers.


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Vertical and Horizontal FDI

  • Foreign direct investment undertaken by MNEs is often classified as either vertical and horizontal.

  • Vertical FDI implies that an MNE owns facilities that fit into different stages of the supply chain.

  • Horizontal FDI, on the other hand, consists of MNE investments that duplicate facilities and operation in several countries.


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Among the reasons for the growth of MNEs are:

  • It can be less costly to internalize transactions within a business organization than to deal with outside firms.

  • Proprietory knowledge is often best exploited in-house.

  • By expanding overseas, economies of scale can be exploited.

  • Reputations can be exploited in more than one market.

  • Trade restrictions can be avoided by producing overseas behind tariff walls.


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Among the reasons for the growth of MNEs are:

  • Taxes and regulations induce business to move activities across borders.

  • Exchange rate risk inherent to international trade and investment can be reduced by spreading expenses and earnings across borders.

  • FDI may be possible when financial markets do not exist to otherwise channel funds to profitable projects.

  • A local presence can help firms anticipating favorable local business opportunities.


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MNEs and International Technology Transfers

  • MNEs use FDI to establish their methods and proprietary techniques in foreign countries.

  • MNEs also transfer people, designs, business philosophies, and management techniques across borders.

  • The evidence strongly suggests that the technological leaders in each industry are also the more active foreign investors.

  • Because firms do not easily part with proprietary technology, FDI may be the only way to introduce cutting-edge technology into a country.


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Portfolio Investment

  • Portfolio investment consists of purchases and sales of securities, such as bonds and stocks, in amounts that do not imply any direct management control or influence on the businesses issuing the securities.

  • Portfolio investment has, along with FDI, become one of the two largest categories of international investment.

  • The prominence of international portfolio investment is been a very recent phenomenon, however.

  • International portfolio investment first required the development of stock and bond markets in other countries.

  • Portfolio investment is widely used by investors to spread risk as well as to raise overall returns to savings.


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International Investment: A Historical Perspective

  • When measured as a proportion of GDP, capital flows in the 1800s were much larger then than they are now.

  • But, because financial markets were not as developed, international investment was not nearly as diverse as today.

  • International investment flows were always subject to occasional defaults and renegotiation.

  • Most foreign debt was serviced on schedule by borrowers, and, in the case of Great Britain, the overall returns on foreign bonds were at least as high as they were on domestic British assets.

  • International investment came to a complete halt during the 1930s, only to recover toward the end of the 20th century.


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International Investment: A Historical Perspective

  • International investment grew rapidly after World War II, but this growth was not uniform.

  • Immediately after World War II, foreign aid dominated.

  • During the 1950s, MNEs began to spread across borders and the eurocurrency market was born.

  • International bank lending and FDI accounted for much of the international investment among developed economies.

  • In the 1970s the eurocurrency lending to the developing economies grew rapidly, but the 1982 debt crisis slowed bank lending during the 1980s.

  • In the 1990s, bank lending was surpassed by FDI and portfolio investment as the largest categories of international investment.


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The rapid growth of international investment that we are experiencing raises interesting questions:

  • What will be international investment’s role in the process of globalization in the future?

  • Will future international investment flows be as volatile as they have been over the past 25 years, or will they be more stable?


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