DP17163 Reshaping global trade: the immediate and long-term effects of bank failures

Author(s): Chenzi Xu
Publication Date: March 2022
Keyword(s): crisis, History, International Banks, international trade
JEL(s): F14, G01, G21, N20
Programme Areas: Financial Economics, International Trade and Regional Economics, Economic History, International Macroeconomics and Finance
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=17163

I show that a disruption to the financial sector can reshape the patterns of global trade for decades. I study the first modern global banking crisis originating in London in 1866 and collect archival loan records that link multinational banks headquartered there to their lending abroad. Countries exposed to bank failures in London immediately exported significantly less and did not recover their lost growth relative to unexposed places. Their market shares within each destination also remained significantly lower for four decades. Decomposing the persistent market-share losses shows that they primarily stem from lack of extensive margin growth, as the financing shock caused importers to source more from new trade partnerships. Exporters producing more substitutable goods, those with little access to alternative forms of credit, and those trading with more distant partners experienced more persistent losses, consistent with the existence of sunk costs and the importance of finance for intermediating trade.