Surges and reversals of short-term foreign liabilities are often held responsible for instabilities in international financial markets. Yet, empirical evidence on the factors determining the maturity of capital flows is scant. This paper analyzes the determinants of foreign assets of German banks for a panel of up to 73 countries for the years 1985?1997. Cross section estimates show that short- and long-term assets are highly correlated with foreign trade links but not necessarily with variables capturing regulatory restrictions. Trade activities are more important in explaining claims on banks versus non-banks. There is some evidence for a negative impact of exchange rate volatility on the share of short-term assets.