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The Collapse of International Trade During the 2008-2009 Crisis: In Search of the Smoking Gun

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  • Andrei A. Levchenko
  • Logan T. Lewis
  • Linda L. Tesar

Abstract

One of the most striking aspects of the recent recession is the collapse in international trade. This paper uses disaggregated data on U.S. imports and exports to shed light on the anatomy of this collapse. We find that the recent reduction in trade relative to overall economic activity is far larger than in previous downturns. Information on quantities and prices of both domestic absorption and imports reveals a 40% shortfall in imports, relative to what would be predicted by a simple import demand relationship. In a sample of imports and exports disaggregated at the 6-digit NAICS level, we find that sectors used as intermediate inputs experienced significantly higher percentage reductions in both imports and exports. We also find support for compositional effects: sectors with larger reductions in domestic output had larger drops in trade. By contrast, we find no support for the hypothesis that trade credit played a role in the recent trade collapse.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 16006.

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Date of creation: May 2010
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Publication status: published as Andrei A Levchenko & Logan T Lewis & Linda L Tesar, 2010. "The Collapse of International Trade during the 2008–09 Crisis: In Search of the Smoking Gun," IMF Economic Review, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 58(2), pages 214-253, December.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16006

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