European bank penetration during the first wave of globalisation: Lessons from Brazil and Chile, 1878-1913

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Although the macroeconomics of Latin America during the first wave of globalisation has been largely documented, key microeconomic aspects remain insufficiently studied. This is the case for the process of the foreign bank penetration driven by British and German banks. The article analyses the historical experiences of Chile and Brazil with foreign banks between 1878 and 1913. Based on newly available bank balance sheet data for each country, we searched for evidence of differences in the financial behaviour between local and foreign (British and German) banks as well as possible competition effects induced by foreign entry. In line with the results of the vast literature on the present wave of foreign bank entry into developing countries, we find that, on the whole, foreign and domestic banks behaved differently and that the impacts of British and German bank penetration in Brazil and Chile tended to be positive.

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