Foreign Direct Investment and Political Uncertainty

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Recent developments in the general equilibrium theory of multinationals emphasize the importance of multilateral considerations. Yet, existing explanations and corresponding estimations of FDI patterns have largely limited political and institutional investment impediments to a bilateral framework. Through the application of spatial econometric techniques, I demonstrate that the presence of both domestic and regional political uncertainty generate real options effects that lead to the delay or redirection of foreign direct investment. The magnitude and direction of these effects is conditional upon the host country regime type and the predominant multinational integration strategies in the region. Comparing these results with FDI of U.S. origin, I find evidence for divergent investment behavior by U.S. multinationals during regime changes in partner countries. Additionally, I find no evidence that multinationals from developing countries are more likely to complete cross-border deals in environments characterized by greater political risk or political uncertainty.