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The Trade Comovement Puzzle and the Margins of International Trade

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  • Wei Liao

    (Hong Kong Institute for Monetary Research)

  • Ana Maria Santacreu

    (INSEAD and Hong Kong Institute for Monetary Research)

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Abstract

Countries that trade more with each other tend to have more correlated business cycles. Yet, traditional international business cycle models predict a much weaker link between trade and business cycle comovement. We propose that the international diffusion of technology through trade in varieties may be driving the observed comovement by increasing the correlation of total factor productivity (TFP). Our hypothesis is that business cycles should be more correlated between countries that trade a wider variety of goods. We find empirical support for this hypothesis. After decomposing trade into its extensive and intensive margins, we find that the extensive margin explains most of the trade-TFP and trade-output comovement. This result is striking because the extensive margin accounts for only a third of total trade. We then develop a three-country model of technology innovation and international diffusion through trade, in which TFP correlation increases with trade in varieties. A numerical exercise shows that the proposed mechanism increases business cycle synchronization relative to traditional models. Impulse responses to a TFP shock in one country reveal a strong positive effect on the output of its trading partner. Finally, our model implies a trade-output coefficient that is 40% of that observed in the data and 5 times higher than that predicted by standard models.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Hong Kong Institute for Monetary Research in its series Working Papers with number 042012.

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Length: 43 pages
Date of creation: Feb 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hkm:wpaper:042012

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  1. Ananth Ramanarayanan & Costas Arkolakis, 2009. "Vertical Specialization and International Business Cycle Synchronization," 2009 Meeting Papers 780, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  2. Kose, M. Ayhan & Yi, Kei-Mu, 2006. "Can the standard international business cycle model explain the relation between trade and comovement?," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(2), pages 267-295, March.
  3. Pinelopi K. Goldberg & Amit Khandelwal & Nina Pavcnik & Petia Topalova, 2008. "Imported Intermediate Inputs and Domestic Product Growth: Evidence from India," NBER Working Papers 14416, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Diego A. Comin & Norman Loayza & Farooq Pasha & Luis Serven, 2009. "Medium Term Business Cycles in Developing Countries," Harvard Business School Working Papers 10-029, Harvard Business School, revised Sep 2010.
  5. Feenstra, Robert C & Markusen, James R, 1994. "Accounting for Growth with New Inputs," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 35(2), pages 429-47, May.
  6. Timothy J. Kehoe & Kim J. Ruhl, 2006. "How Important is the New Goods Margin in International Trade?," 2006 Meeting Papers 733, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  7. Diego Comin & Mark Gertler & Ana Maria Santacreu, 2009. "Technology Innovation and Diffusion as Sources of Output and Asset Price Fluctuations," Harvard Business School Working Papers 09-134, Harvard Business School.
  8. Diego Comin & Mark Gertler, 2003. "Medium Term Business Cycles," NBER Working Papers 10003, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Pinelopi Goldberg & Amit Khandelwal & Nina Pavcnik & Petia Topalova, 2009. "Trade Liberalization and New Imported Inputs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(2), pages 494-500, May.
  10. Ng, Eric C.Y., 2010. "Production fragmentation and business-cycle comovement," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 82(1), pages 1-14, September.
  11. Rubinstein, Yona & Helpman, Elhanan & Melitz, Marc, 2008. "Estimating Trade Flows: Trading Partners and Trading Volumes," Scholarly Articles 3228230, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  12. Ethier, Wilfred J, 1982. "National and International Returns to Scale in the Modern Theory of International Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(3), pages 389-405, June.
  13. Christian Broda & Joshua Greenfield & David Weinstein, 2006. "From Groundnuts to Globalization: A Structural Estimate of Trade and Growth," NBER Working Papers 12512, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Thomas Chaney, 2008. "Distorted Gravity: The Intensive and Extensive Margins of International Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(4), pages 1707-21, September.
  15. Maurice Kugler & Eric Verhoogen, 2009. "Plants and Imported Inputs: New Facts and an Interpretation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(2), pages 501-07, May.
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