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Country Size, International Trade, and Aggregate Fluctuations in Granular Economies

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  • Julian di Giovanni
  • Andrei A. Levchenko

Abstract

This paper proposes a new mechanism by which country size and international trade affect macroeconomic volatility. We study a multi-country, multi-sector model with heterogeneous firms that are subject to idiosyncratic firm-specific shocks. When the distribution of firm sizes follows a power law with an exponent close to -1, the idiosyncratic shocks to large firms have an impact on aggregate output volatility. We explore the quantitative properties of the model calibrated to data for the 50 largest economies in the world. Smaller countries have fewer firms, and thus higher volatility. The model performs well in matching this pattern both qualitatively and quantitatively: the rate at which macroeconomic volatility decreases in country size in the model is very close to what is found in the data. Opening to trade increases the importance of large firms to the economy, thus raising macroeconomic volatility. Our simulation exercise shows that the contribution of trade to aggregate fluctuations depends strongly on country size: in the largest economies in the world, such as the U.S. or Japan, international trade increases volatility by only 1.5-3.5%. By contrast, trade increases aggregate volatility by some 15-20% in a small open economy, such as Denmark or Romania.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 17335.

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Date of creation: Aug 2011
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Publication status: published as Julian di Giovanni & Andrei A. Levchenko, 2012. "Country Size, International Trade, and Aggregate Fluctuations in Granular Economies," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 120(6), pages 1083 - 1132.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17335

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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Julian di Giovanni & Andrei A. Levchenko, 2010. "Firm Entry, Trade, and Welfare in Zipf's World," NBER Working Papers 16313, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Kazuo Nishimura & Alain Venditti & Makoto Yano, 2013. "Destabilization Effect of International Trade in a Perfect Foresight Dynamic General Equilibrium Model," AMSE Working Papers 1313, Aix-Marseille School of Economics, Marseille, France, revised Feb 2013.
  3. Sari Pekkala Kerr & William R. Kerr & William F. Lincoln, 2014. "Firms and the Economics of Skilled Immigration," NBER Working Papers 20069, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Marc J. Melitz & Stephen J. Redding, 2012. "Heterogeneous firms and trade," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 48928, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  5. del Rosal, Ignacio, 2013. "The granular hypothesis in EU country exports," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 120(3), pages 433-436.
  6. Kleinert, Jörn & Martin, Julien & Toubal, Farid, 2012. "The Few Leading The Many: Foreign Affiliates and Business Cycle Comovement," CEPR Discussion Papers 9129, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Sergio Schmukler & Tatiana Didier, 2013. "The Financing and Growth of Firms in China and India: Evidence from Capital Markets," 2013 Meeting Papers 98, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  8. Jinjarak, Yothin & Mutuc, Paulo Jose & Wignaraja, Ganeshan, 2014. "Does Finance Really Matter for the Participation of SMEs in International Trade? Evidence from 8,080 East Asian Firms," ADBI Working Papers 470, Asian Development Bank Institute.

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