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Information Frictions in Trade

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  • Treb Allen

    (Yale University)

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    Abstract

    It is costly to acquire information about markets in other places, especially in developing countries. In this paper, I examine the effect of such information frictions on trade. I embed a process where heterogeneous producers sequentially search across regions to determine where to sell their produce into a perfect competition Ricardian trade model. Information frictions explain the empirical failure of price arbitrage and provide new insight into how market conditions affect trade flows. Using a data set I assemble on regional agricultural trade in the Philippines, I show that observed trade flows and prices suggest the presence of substantial information frictions. I then structurally estimate the model to disentangle information frictions from transportation costs. I find that (1) estimated transportation costs are half as large as those implied by complete information models and more consistent with observed freight costs; and (2) the vast majority (93 percent) of the “gravity†relationship between trade flows and distance can be attributed to information frictions rather than transportation costs.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Society for Economic Dynamics in its series 2012 Meeting Papers with number 125.

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    Date of creation: 2012
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    Handle: RePEc:red:sed012:125

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    1. Aparajita Goyal, 2010. "Information, Direct Access to Farmers, and Rural Market Performance in Central India," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(3), pages 22-45, July.
    2. Costas Arkolakis & Arnaud Costinot & Andres Rodriguez-Clare, 2012. "New Trade Models, Same Old Gains?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(1), pages 94-130, February.
    3. Albornoz, Facundo & Calvo Pardo, Héctor F. & Corcos, Gregory & Ornelas, Emanuel, 2012. "Sequential exporting," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(1), pages 17-31.
    4. Ina Simonovska, 2009. "Income Differences and Prices of Tradables," 2009 Meeting Papers 692, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    5. Michael E. Waugh, 2010. "International Trade and Income Differences," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(5), pages 2093-2124, December.
    6. Novy, Dennis, 2010. "International Trade and Monopolistic Competition without CES: Estimating Translog Gravity," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 929, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
    7. George Alessandria & Joseph P. Kaboski, 2011. "Pricing-to-Market and the Failure of Absolute PPP," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(1), pages 91-127, January.
    8. Mas-Colell, Andreu & Whinston, Michael D. & Green, Jerry R., 1995. "Microeconomic Theory," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195102680.
    9. Russell Hillberry & David Hummels, 2005. "Trade Responses to Geographic Frictions: A Decomposition Using Micro-Data," NBER Working Papers 11339, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Jenny C. Aker, 2010. "Information from Markets Near and Far: Mobile Phones and Agricultural Markets in Niger," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(3), pages 46-59, July.
    11. Mortensen, Dale T, 1970. "Job Search, the Duration of Unemployment, and the Phillips Curve," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 60(5), pages 847-62, December.
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    Cited by:
    1. Keith Head & Thierry Mayer, 2013. "What Separates Us? Sources of Resistance to Globalization," Working Papers 2013-26, CEPII research center.
    2. Marc J. Melitz & Stephen J. Redding, 2012. "Heterogeneous Firms and Trade," NBER Working Papers 18652, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Christopher PARSONS & Pierre-Louis VÉZINA, 2014. "Migrant Networks and Trade: The Vietnamese Boat People as a Natural Experiment," Working Papers DP-2014-09, Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA).
    4. Ryan Monarch, 2014. ""It'S Not You, It'S Me": Breakups In U.S.-China Trade Relationships," Working Papers 14-08, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
    5. Gollin, Douglas & Rogerson, Richard, 2014. "Productivity, transport costs and subsistence agriculture," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 107(C), pages 38-48.

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