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John Spray
I develop a model of firm-to-firm search and matching to show that the impact of falling trade costs on firm sourcing decisions and consumer welfare depends on the relative size of search externalities in domestic and international markets. These externalities can be positive if firms share information about potential matches, or negative if the market is congested. Using unique firm-to-firm transaction-level data from Uganda, I document empirical evidence consistent with positive externalities in international markets and negative externalities in domestic markets. I then build a dynamic quantitative version of the model and show that, in Uganda, a 25% reduction in trade costs led to a 3.7% increase in consumer welfare, 12% of which was due to search externalities.
Mr. Shafik Hebous, Mr. Alexander D Klemm, and Yuou Wu
Profit shifting by multinational enterprises—through manipulation of transfer prices of related-party trade, intragroup lending, or the location of intangibles—affects international flows, raising the question of its impact on the current account and external balances. This paper approaches this question theoretically and empirically. In theory, profit shifting distorts the components of the current account and bilateral current account balances but leaves a country’s aggregate net balance unaffected. There is, however, a real effect on current account balances, because taxes are paid to different jurisdictions. Moreover—in practice—the measured current account could change, because not all transactions are equally easy to track. Our panel empirical results broadly confirm that the current account balance tends to be, on average, unaffected by profit shifting, but taking heterogeneity into account we find that both the real tax effect and mismeasurement strengthen income balances—and thus the current account—in investment hubs.
Mr. Benjamin L Hunt, Susanna Mursula, Mr. Rafael A Portillo, and Marika Santoro
In this paper, we investigate the mechanisms through which import tariffs impact the macroeconomy in two large scale workhorse models used for quantitative policy analysis: a computational general equilibrium (CGE) model (Purdue University GTAP model) and a multi-country dynamic stochastic general equilibrium (DSGE) model (IMF GIMF model). The quantitative effects of an increase in tariffs reflect different mechanisms at work. Like other models in the trade literature, in GTAP higher tariffs generate a loss in terms of output arising from an inefficient reallocation of resources between sectors. In GIMF instead, as in other DSGE models, tariffs act as a disincentive to factor utilization. We show that the two models/channels can be broadly interpreted as capturing the impact of tariffs on different components of a country’s aggregate production function: aggregate productivity (GTAP) and factor supply/utilization (GIMF). We discuss ways to combine the estimates from these two models to provide a more complete assessment of the macro effects of tariffs.
Philipp Engler, Nathalie Pouokam, Diego Rodriguez Guzman, and Mrs. Irina Yakadina
Voluntary and government-mandated lockdowns in response to COVID-19 have caused causing drastic reductions in economic activity around the world. We present a parsimonious two-country-SIR model with some degree of substitutability between home and foreign goods, and show that trading partners’ asynchronous entries into the global pandemic induce mutual welfare gains from trade. Those gains are realized through exchange rate adjustments that cause a temporary reallocation of production towards the economy with the lowest infection rate at any point in time. We show that international cooperation over containment policies that aim at optimizing global welfare further enhances the ability of countries to exploit trade opportunities to contain the spread of the pandemic. We characterize the Nash game of strategic choices of containment policies as a prisoners’ dilemma.
Sergii Meleshchuk and Mr. Yannick Timmer
In this paper we demonstrate the importance of distinguishing capital goods tariffs from other tariffs. Using exposure to a quasi-natural experiment induced by a trade reform in Colombia, we find that firms that have been more exposed to a reduction in intermediate and consumption input or output tariffs do not significantly increase their investment rates. However, firms’ investment rate increase strongly in response to a reduction in capital goods input tariffs. Firms do not substitute capital with labor, but instead also increase employment, especially for production workers. Reduction in other tariff rates do not increase investment and employment. Our results suggest that a reduction in the relative price of capital goods can significantly boost investment and employment and does not seem to lead to a decline in the labor share.
Natalie Chen and Luciana Juvenal
We investigate theoretically and empirically how exporters adjust their markups across destinations depending on bilateral distance, tariffs, and the quality of their exports. Under the assumption that trade costs are both ad valorem and per unit, our model predicts that markups rise with distance and fall with tariffs, but these effects are heterogeneous and are smaller in magnitude for higher quality exports. We find strong support for the predictions of the model using a unique data set of Argentinean firm-level wine exports combined with experts wine ratings as a measure of quality.