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Terms of Trade Volatility and Precautionary Savings in Developing Economies

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  • Salim B. Furth

Abstract

This paper investigates the link between terms of trade volatility and long-term output growth in developing countries. I find that differences in terms of trade volatility account for 25% of the cross-country variation in growth from 1980 to 2007. The magnitude is arresting: a two-standard-deviation difference in terms of trade volatility between two countries is associated in the data with a 32-percentage-point difference in overall output growth. A decomposition of output growth distinguishes the dynamic effects of productivity growth from pure factor accumulation. The data show that precautionary savings in the 1970’s and 80’s took the form of high domestic investment, which was replaced in the 2000’s by investment in foreign assets. The reallocation of precautionary savings from domestic to foreign assets led to falling output in countries with volatile terms of trade. A neoclassical capital accumulation model has significant precautionary savings associated with terms of trade risk. Opening foreign bond markets in the model induces a shift away from capital and a fall in output in price-volatile countries, reproducing my finding from the data.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by DEGIT, Dynamics, Economic Growth, and International Trade in its series DEGIT Conference Papers with number c015_013.

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Length: 30 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:deg:conpap:c015_013

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Keywords: terms of trade volatility; precautionary savings; GDP growth; developing countries;

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References

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  1. Stephen Turnovsky & Pradip Chattopadhyay, 1998. "Volatility and Growth in Developing Economies: Some Numerical Results and Empirical Evidence," Discussion Papers in Economics at the University of Washington, Department of Economics at the University of Washington 0055, Department of Economics at the University of Washington.
  2. Blattman, Christopher & Hwang, Jason & Williamson, Jeffrey G., 2007. "Winners and losers in the commodity lottery: The impact of terms of trade growth and volatility in the Periphery 1870-1939," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 82(1), pages 156-179, January.
  3. Miklos Koren & Silvana Tenreyro, 2005. "Volatility and development," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library 5312, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  4. Timothy J. Kehoe & Kim J. Ruhl, 2007. "Are Shocks to the Terms of Trade Shocks to Productivity?," NBER Working Papers 13111, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Mendoza, Enrique G., 1997. "Terms-of-trade uncertainty and economic growth," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 54(2), pages 323-356, December.
  6. Ben S. Bernanke & Refet S. Gurkaynak, 2001. "Is Growth Exogenous? Taking Mankiw, Romer and Weil Seriously," NBER Working Papers 8365, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Stephanie E. Curcuru & Tomas Dvorak & Francis E. Warnock, 2008. "Cross-Border Returns Differentials," NBER Working Papers 13768, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Timothy J. Kehoe & Kim Ruhl, 2008. "Data Appendix to "Are Shocks to the Terms of Trade Shocks to Productivity?"," Technical Appendices 07-40, Review of Economic Dynamics.
  9. Riedel, James, 1984. "Trade as the Engine of Growth in Developing Countries, Revisited," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, Royal Economic Society, vol. 94(373), pages 56-73, March.
  10. Romer, Paul M, 1986. "Increasing Returns and Long-run Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(5), pages 1002-37, October.
  11. Pierre-Richard Agenor & Joshua Aizenman, 2000. "Savings and the Terms of Trade Under Borrowing Constraints," NBER Working Papers 7743, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Lutz, Matthias, 1994. "The effects of volatility in the terms of trade on output growth: New evidence," World Development, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 22(12), pages 1959-1975, December.
  13. Broda, Christian, 2004. "Terms of trade and exchange rate regimes in developing countries," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 63(1), pages 31-58, May.
  14. Basu, Parantap & McLeod, Darryl, 1991. "Terms of trade fluctuations and economic growth in developing economies," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 37(1-2), pages 89-110, November.
  15. Bleaney, Michael & Greenaway, David, 2001. "The impact of terms of trade and real exchange rate volatility on investment and growth in sub-Saharan Africa," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 65(2), pages 491-500, August.
  16. Tauchen, George, 1986. "Finite state markov-chain approximations to univariate and vector autoregressions," Economics Letters, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 177-181.
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Cited by:
  1. Alessandro Federici & Pierluigi Montalbano, 2012. "Macroeconomic volatility, consumption behaviour and welfare: A cross-country analysis," Working Paper Series 3612, Department of Economics, University of Sussex.

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