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Market Imperfections, Wealth Inequality, and the Distribution of Trade Gains

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  • Reto Foellmi
  • Manuel Oechslin

Abstract

Globalization increasingly involves less-developed countries (LDCs), i.e., economies which usually suffer from severe imperfections in their financial systems. Taking these imperfections seriously, we analyze how credit frictions affect the distributive impact of trade liberalizations. We find that free trade significantly widens income differences among firm owners in LDCs: While wealthy entrepreneurs are better off, relatively poor business people lose. Intuitively, with integrated markets, profit margins shrink -- which makes access to credit particularly difficult for the least affluent agents. Richer entrepreneurs, by contrast, win because they can take advantage of new export opportunities. Our findings resonate well with a number of empirical regularities, in particular with the observation that some liberalizing LDCs have observed a surge in top-income shares.

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Paper provided by Universitaet Bern, Departement Volkswirtschaft in its series Diskussionsschriften with number dp1006.

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Date of creation: Mar 2010
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Handle: RePEc:ube:dpvwib:dp1006

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Keywords: Wealth inequality; trade liberalization; credit market frictions; top incomes;

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Cited by:
  1. Mauro Caselli, 2012. "Does wealth inequality reduce the gains from trade?," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer, vol. 148(2), pages 333-356, June.
  2. Martin Grossmann & Helmut Dietl, 2012. "Asymmetric contests with liquidity constraints," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 150(3), pages 691-713, March.
  3. Foellmi, Reto & Oechslin, Manuel, 2012. "Globalization and Productivity in the Developing World," Economics Working Paper Series 1203, University of St. Gallen, School of Economics and Political Science.
  4. Taiji Furusawa & Noriyuki Yanagawa, 2010. "Firm Heterogeneity under Financial Imperfection: Impacts of Trade and Capital Movement," CARF F-Series CARF-F-233, Center for Advanced Research in Finance, Faculty of Economics, The University of Tokyo.
  5. Spiros Bougheas & Rod Falvey, . "The Impact of Financial Market Frictions on Trade Flows, Capital Flows and Economic Development," Discussion Papers 11/03, University of Nottingham, Centre for Finance, Credit and Macroeconomics (CFCM).
  6. Carré, Martine & Riboni, Alessandro, 2012. "Unequal societies, Unequal Terms of Trade and Trade Policy," Economics Papers from University Paris Dauphine 123456789/10331, Paris Dauphine University.

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