The transportation, information, energy and financial infrastructure of the first global economy were put in place by business enterprises. They financed, insured and transported world trade in manufactures and resources. In subsequent generations, service enterprises renewed their role as the enablers of global capitalism. They sometimes performed central roles as coordinators of cross-border investments in manufacturing and resources.
The service sector is highly diffuse, and includes trade, finance, personal and business services, construction, transportation, communication, and public utilities. Not only do these different services have different characteristics, but in many cases they consist of subsectors which also differ considerably from each other. A further complexity arises from the distinction between FDI in services and FDI by service sector companies. Since the nineteenth century both manufacturing and petroleum companies have diversified into distribution and transportation, while service multinationals have diversified far beyond services.
The range of international business in services in the nineteenth century was striking, but the large investments in trade and distribution were especially important. Manufacturing firms made numerous investments in sales and distribution companies in foreign markets to assist their exports. These investments often proved a first stage of multinational involvement, and were followed in time by assembly or production facilities.
The nineteenth century saw the growth of multinational trading companies which offered an alternative organizational form to the vertical integration of manufacturers and petroleum companies. The chartered trading companies of earlier centuries seldom outlived the withdrawal of their monopoly privileges. By 1914 the only survivor was the Hudson's Bay Company, which had evolved into a successful retailing business, although it only stopped trading in fur in 1991. However, there was a rapid spread of private merchants at the world's entrepots and ports. They were often part of wider family or