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Trade Crisis? What Trade Crisis?

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  • Behrens, Kristian
  • Corcos, Gregory
  • Mion, Giordano

Abstract

We provide an analysis of the 2008-2009 trade collapse using microdata from a small open economy, Belgium. First, we find that changes in firm-country-product exports and imports occurred mostly at the intensive margin: the number of firms, the average number of destination and origin markets per firm, and the average number of products per market changed only very little. Second, econometric analysis reveals some composition effects in the intensive margin fall along firm, product and country characteristics. The most important factor explaining changes in exports is the destination country's growth rate of GDP. Had growth rates in 2008--2009 been the same as in 2007--2008, Belgian exports would have fallen by about 57% less than what we observe. Trade in consumer durables and capital goods fell more severely than trade in other product categories, which explains another 22% of the observed fall. Financial variables and involvement in global value chains have some explanatory power on the exports and imports fall respectively, but appear to have affected domestic operations in equal proportion. More generally, exports-to-turnover and imports-to-intermediates ratios at the firm level did neither systematically decrease nor reveal strong firm- or sector-specific patterns. Overall, our results point to a demand-side explanation: the fall in trade was mostly driven by the fall in economic activity. It is not a trade crisis --- just a trade collapse

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 7956.

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Date of creation: Aug 2010
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:7956

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Related research

Keywords: Belgium; firm-level analysis; margins of trade; trade collapse; trade crisis;

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References

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  1. Mary Amiti & David E. Weinstein, 2011. "Exports and Financial Shocks," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(4), pages 1841-1877.
  2. Araújo, Sónia & Oliveira Martins, Joaquim, 2011. "The Great Synchronisation : tracking the trade collapse with high-frequency data," Economics Papers from University Paris Dauphine 123456789/8088, Paris Dauphine University.
  3. David S. Jacks & Christopher M. Meissner & Dennis Novy, 2009. "Trade Booms, Trade Busts, and Trade Costs," CESifo Working Paper Series 2767, CESifo Group Munich.
  4. Iacovone, Leonardo & Zavacka, Veronika, 2009. "Banking crises and exports : lessons from the past," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5016, The World Bank.
  5. Marc J. Melitz, 2003. "The Impact of Trade on Intra-Industry Reallocations and Aggregate Industry Productivity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(6), pages 1695-1725, November.
  6. Nicolas Berman and Philippe Martin, 2010. "The Vulnerability Of Sub-Saharan Africa To The Financial Crisis: The Case Of Trade," EUI-RSCAS Working Papers 15, European University Institute (EUI), Robert Schuman Centre of Advanced Studies (RSCAS).
  7. Davin Chor & Kalina Manova, 2010. "Off the Cliff and Back? Credit Conditions and International Trade during the Global Financial Crisis," NBER Working Papers 16174, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Sanghamitra Das & Mark J. Roberts & James R. Tybout, 2001. "Market Entry Costs, Producer Heterogeneity, and Export Dynamics," NBER Working Papers 8629, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Andrei A. Levchenko & Logan T. Lewis & Linda L. Tesar, 2010. "The Collapse of International Trade During the 2008-2009 Crisis: In Search of the Smoking Gun," NBER Working Papers 16006, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Freund, Caroline, 2009. "The trade response to global downturns : historical evidence," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5015, The World Bank.
  11. Virgiliu Midrigan & Joseph Kaboski & George Alessandria, 2010. "The Great Trade Collapse of 2008-09: An Inventory Adjustment?," 2010 Meeting Papers 107, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  12. Roberts, Mark J & Tybout, James R, 1997. "The Decision to Export in Colombia: An Empirical Model of Entry with Sunk Costs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(4), pages 545-64, September.
  13. Bricongne, J-C. & Fontagné, L. & Gaulier, G. & Taglioni, D. & Vicard, V., 2009. "Firms and the global crisis: French exports in the turmoil," Working papers 265, Banque de France.
  14. Rauch, James E., 1999. "Networks versus markets in international trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 7-35, June.
  15. Agnès Bénassy-Quéré & Yvan Decreux & Lionel Fontagné & David Khoudour-Castéras, 2009. "Economic Crisis and Global Supply Chains," Working Papers 2009-15, CEPII research center.
  16. George Alessandria & Joseph P. Kaboski & Virgiliu Midrigan, 2010. "The great trade collapse of 2008-2009: an inventory adjustment?," Working Papers 10-18, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  17. Keith Head & John Ries, 2001. "Increasing Returns versus National Product Differentiation as an Explanation for the Pattern of U.S.-Canada Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(4), pages 858-876, September.
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