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In this study we show that French foreign investment from the end of the nineteenth century until the eve of the First World War was driven by economic and financial considerations. This refutes the hitherto accepted thesis that French capital exports were motivated by diplomatic and political factors. By using economic modeling which combines microeconomic and econometric approaches, we show that the geographic distribution of French financial flows was consistent with rational economic behavior.doi:10.1017/s0022050704002724 fatcat:rphu57tbobapramksq7asyzeqq