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The US Trade Deficit: A Disaggregated Perspective

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  • Catherine L. Mann

    ()
    (Institute for International Economics)

  • Katharina Plück

    (Institute for International Economics)

Abstract

The paper prepares new estimates for the elasticity of US trade flows using bilateral, commodity-detailed trade data for 31 countries, using measures of expenditure and trade prices matched to commodity groups, and including a commodity-and-country specific proxy for global supply-cum-variety. Using the United Nations Commodity Trade Statistics Database (UN Comtrade) we construct bilateral trade flows for 31 countries in four categories of goods based on the Bureau of Economic Analysis’s “end-use” classification system—autos, industrial supplies and materials–excluding energy, consumer goods, and capital goods. We find that using expenditure matched to commodity category yields more plausible values for the demand elasticities than does using GDP as the measure of demand that drives trade flows. Controlling for country and commodity fixed effects, we find that industrial and developing countries have demand elasticities that are statistically significant and that generally differ between development groups and across product categories. Relative prices for the industrial countries have plausible parameter values, are statistically significant and differ across product groups, but the relative prices for developing countries are poorly estimated. We find that variety is an important variable for the behavior of capital goods trade. Because the commodity composition of trade and of trading partners has changed dramatically, particularly for imports, we find that the demand elasticity for imports is not constant. Comparing the in-sample performance of the disaggregated model against a benchmark that uses aggregated data and GDP as the expenditure variable, our disaggregated model predicts exports better in-sample but does not predict imports as well as the benchmark model.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Peterson Institute for International Economics in its series Working Paper Series with number WP05-11.

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Date of creation: Sep 2005
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Handle: RePEc:iie:wpaper:wp05-11

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Keywords: US trade deficit; goods; trade; commodity composition; trade elasticities and sustainability;

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References

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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Yin-Wong Cheung & Menzie D. Chinn & Eiji Fujii, 2010. "China's Current Account and Exchange Rate," NBER Chapters, in: China's Growing Role in World Trade, pages 231-271 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Rahman, Mizanur, 2008. "The Impact of a Common Currency on East Asian Production Networks and China’s Exports Behavior," MPRA Paper 13931, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  3. Mizanur RAHMAN & Willem THORBECKE, 2007. "How Would China's Exports be Affected by a Unilateral Appreciation of the RMB and a Joint Appreciation of Countries Supplying Intermediate Imports?," Discussion papers 07012, Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI).
  4. Lars Calmfors & Giancarlo Corsetti & Seppo Honkapohja & John Kay & Gilles Saint-Paul & Hans-Werner Sinn & Jan-Egbert Sturm & Xavier Vives, 2006. "Chapter 2: Global Imbalances," EEAG Report on the European Economy, CESifo Group Munich, vol. 0, pages 50-67, 03.
  5. Kichun Kang, 2012. "Is the "Houthakker-Magee" Finding Durable? Evidence from Disaggregated Trade Flows between China and Korea," Annals of Economics and Finance, Society for AEF, vol. 13(2), pages 299-316, November.
  6. Miaojie Yu, 2010. "Does Appreciation of the RMB Decrease Imports to the U.S. from China?," Trade Working Papers 22040, East Asian Bureau of Economic Research.
  7. Chinn, Menzie D., 2010. "Supply Capacity, Vertical Specialisation andTrade Costs: The Implications for Aggreagate US Trade Flow Equations," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 14, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).

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