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The Risk Content of Exports: A Portfolio View of International Trade

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  • Julian di Giovanni
  • Andrei A. Levchenko

Abstract

It has been suggested that countries whose exports are in especially risky sectors will experience higher output volatility. This paper develops a measure of the riskiness of a country's pattern of export specialization, and illustrates its features across countries and over time. The exercise reveals large cross-country differences in the risk content of exports. This measure is strongly correlated with the volatility of terms-of-trade, total exports, and output, but does not exhibit a close relationship to the level of income, overall trade openness, or other country characteristics. We then propose an explanation for what determines the risk content of exports, based on the theoretical literature exemplified by Turnovsky (1974). Countries with a comparative advantage in safe sectors or a strong enough comparative advantage in risky sectors will specialize, whereas countries whose comparative advantage in risky sectors is not too strong will diversify their export structure to insure against export income risk. We use both non-parametric and semiparametric techniques to demonstrate that these theoretical predictions are strongly supported by the data.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal NBER International Seminar on Macroeconomics.

Volume (Year): 8 (2012)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
Pages: 97 - 151

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Handle: RePEc:ucp:intsma:doi:10.1086/663622

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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Julian di Giovanni & Andrei A. Levchenko, 2009. "Trade Openness and Volatility," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 91(3), pages 558-585, August.
  2. Krishna, Pravin & Levchenko, Andrei A., 2013. "Comparative advantage, complexity, and volatility," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 94(C), pages 314-329.
  3. Joël CARIOLLE, 2012. "Measuring macroeconomic volatility - Applications to export revenue data, 1970-2005," Working Papers I14, FERDI.
  4. Aleksandra Parteka, 2013. "The evolving structure of Polish exports (1994−2010) – diversification of products and trade partners," Bank i Kredyt, National Bank of Poland, Economic Institute, vol. 44(5), pages 435-466.
  5. Regolo, Julie, 2013. "Export diversification: How much does the choice of the trading partner matter?," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(2), pages 329-342.
  6. Julie Regolo, 2013. "Export Diversification: How Much Does the Choice of the Trading Partner Matter?," Research Papers by the Institute of Economics and Econometrics, Geneva School of Economics and Management, University of Geneva 13072, Institut d'Economie et Econométrie, Université de Genève.
  7. Dalila NICET- CHENAF (GREThA UMR CNRS 5113) & Eric ROUGIER (GREThA UMR CNRS 5113), 2008. "Recent exports matter: export discoveries, FDI and Growth, an empirical assessment for MENA countries," Cahiers du GREThA 2008-22, Groupe de Recherche en Economie Théorique et Appliquée.
  8. Joël CARIOLLE, 2012. "Mesurer l’instabilité macroéconomique - Applications aux données de recettes d’exportation, 1970-2005," Working Papers I14, FERDI.
  9. repec:gen:geneem:13032 is not listed on IDEAS

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