The existing evidence from both cross-country and country case studies on the determinants of foreign bank entry and on the impact of foreign banks on host economies suggests the brick-and-mortar operations of international banks have important implications for competition and efficiency of the local financial sectors and for financial stability and access to credit in the host country (World Bank, 2018). The Global Financial Development Report 2017/2018: Bankers without Borders contributes to the policy dialogue on international banks by summarizing what has been learned so far about: i) the risks and opportunities posed by foreign banks when entering developing countries and ii) under what circumstances host economies can reap most benefits from the entry of international banks.
Global banks had rapidly expanded their lending activities abroad before the global financial crisis, during the 1990s and early 2000s. Between 1991 and 2007, the volume of syndicated loan issuances a year by nonfinancial corporations increased more than seven times in high-income countries and more than eight times in developing ones (figure 1). However, the global financial crisis (GFC) hit global banks in the developed world especially hard, which reacted by reducing their cross-border lending activities worldwide.
Figure 1. Issuance Activity in Syndicated Loan Markets, 1991–2014
Source: SDC Platinum.
Since the global financial crisis of 2007, international banking has attracted heightened interest from policy makers, researchers, and other financial sector stakeholders. Perhaps no sector of the economy better illustrates the potential benefits—but also the perils—of deeper integration than banking. Before the crisis, international banks (banks that do business outside of the country they are headquartered in) were generally considered to be an important contributor to financial development as well as economic growth. This belief coincided with a significant increase in financial globalization in the decade prior to the crisis, particularly for banking institutions.
Worldwide, agriculture is the main source of income among the rural poor. Relative to other sectors, agricultural growth can reduce rural poverty rates faster and more effectively (Christiaensen and others 2011). As discussed in the GFDR 2014, one relevant vehicle to achieve growth in the sector may be finance.
Farmers’ decisions to invest and to produce are closely influenced by access to financial instruments. If appropriate risk mitigation products are lacking, or if available financial instruments do not match farmers’ needs, farmers may be discouraged to adopt better technologies, to purchase agricultural inputs, or to make other decisions that can improve the efficiency of their businesses. Improving access to finance can increase farmers’ investment choices and provide them with more effective tools to manage risks (Karlan and others 2012a, Cai and others 2009).