The International Exposure of U.S. Banks
NBER Working Paper No. 11365
This paper documents the changing international exposures of U.S. bank balance sheets since the mid-1980s. U.S. banks have foreign positions heavily concentrated in Europe, with more volatile flows to other regions of the world. In recent years some cross-border claims on Latin American countries have declined, while claims extended locally by the branches and subsidiaries of U.S. banks have grown. The foreign exposures of larger U.S. banks tend to be less volatile than claims of smaller banks, and locally-issued claims tend to be more stable than cross-border flows. Business cycle variables have mixed influence on U.S. bank cross-border and local claims. The cross-border claims of U.S. banks on European customers tend to be procyclical. By contrast, locally generated and cross border claims on Latin American customers of U.S. banks are not robustly related to either U.S. or country-specific business cycle variables. U.S. banks do not appear to be strong conduits for transmitting U.S. cycles to these smaller markets, and may instead serve a positive role in stabilizing the amplitude of foreign country cycles.