The IMF Working Papers series is designed to make IMF staff research available to a wide audience. Almost 300 Working Papers are released each year, covering a wide range of theoretical and analytical topics, including balance of payments, monetary and fiscal issues, global liquidity, and national and international economic developments.
Thomas Dorsey, Mika Saito, Armine Khachatryan, Irena Asmundson, and Ioana Niculcea
INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND
Global merchandise trade sharply declined in late 2008 and early 2009, and some press and financial market reports assigned a large role for the decline to trade finance. However, the available evidence suggests that shocks to trade finance were not the major factor in the decline in trade. Surveys of commercial banks by the IMF and others found that while bank-intermediated trade finance fell in value during the crisis, it fell by less than merchandise trade. As a result, the share of world trade supported by bank-intermediated trade finance increased despite higher pricing margins. Other explanations appear to account for the bulk of the reduction in international trade.