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Dynamics of the trade balance and the terms of trade: the J-curve revisited

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  • David Backus
  • Patrick Kehoe
  • Finn Kydland

Abstract

We provide a new interpretation of the statistical relation between the trade balance and the terms of trade. This relation includes the J-curve, the tendency for trade balances to be negatively correlated with contemporaneous movements in the terms of trade, positively correlated with lagged movements. We document this property in international data and show that it arises, as well, in a two-country stochastic growth model. In the model trade dynamics result, in large part, from fluctuations in investment. A favorable productivity shock in the domestic economy leads to an increase in domestic output, a decrease in its relative price, and a rise in the terms of trade. The increase in domestic productivity also leads to a temporary investment boom. This boom results in an initial trade deficit, followed by future surpluses, and thus a J-curve. We also use the model to provide a new perspective on earlier theories of trade and price dynamics.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis in its series Discussion Paper / Institute for Empirical Macroeconomics with number 65.

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Date of creation: 1992
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedmem:65

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Keywords: Balance of trade;

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References

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  1. Alan C. Stockman & Lars E.O. Svensson, 1985. "Capital Flows, Investment, and Exchange Rates," NBER Working Papers 1598, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. David K. Backus & Patrick J. Kehoe & Finn E. Kydland, 1987. "International real business cycles," Working Papers 426, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  3. Mendoza, Enrique G, 1991. "Real Business Cycles in a Small Open Economy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(4), pages 797-818, September.
  4. repec:fth:calaec:16-90 is not listed on IDEAS
  5. Junz, Helen B & Rhomberg, Rudolf R, 1973. "Price Competitiveness in Export Trade Among Industrial Countries," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 63(2), pages 412-18, May.
  6. Richard Baldwin & Paul R. Krugman, 1986. "Persistent Trade Effects of Large Exchage Rate Shocks," NBER Working Papers 2017, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Kydland, Finn E & Prescott, Edward C, 1982. "Time to Build and Aggregate Fluctuations," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(6), pages 1345-70, November.
  8. Obstfeld, Maurice, 1989. "Fiscal deficits and relative prices in a growing world economy," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(3), pages 461-484, May.
  9. Rose, Andrew K. & Yellen, Janet L., 1989. "Is there a J-curve?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(1), pages 53-68, July.
  10. Alan C. Stockman & Linda L. Tesar, 1991. "Tastes and technology in a two-country model of the business cycle: explaining international co-movements," Working Paper 9019, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
  11. Maurice Obstfeld, 1981. "Aggregate Spending and the Terms of Trade: Is There a Laursen-Metzler Effect?," NBER Working Papers 0686, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Svensson, Lars E O & Razin, Assaf, 1983. "The Terms of Trade and the Current Account: The Harberger-Laursen-Metzler Effect," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 91(1), pages 97-125, February.
  13. Helen B. Junz & Rudolf R. Rhomberg, 1973. "Price competitiveness in export trade among industrial countries," International Finance Discussion Papers 22, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  14. John Whalley, 1984. "Trade Liberalization among Major World Trading Areas," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262231204, December.
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Cited by:
  1. Michael R. Pakko, 1996. "International risk sharing and low cross-country consumption correlations: are they really inconsistent?," Working Papers 1994-019, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
  2. Kazimierz Stanczak, 1992. "The Implications of Convex Arbitrage Costs for International Macroeconomics," UCLA Economics Working Papers 664, UCLA Department of Economics.
  3. Michael Dueker, 1995. "Tariffs and asset market structure: some basic comparative dynamics," Working Papers 1995-009, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

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