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Unbalanced Trade

  • Jonathan Eaton
  • Robert Dekle
  • Samuel Kortum

We incorporate trade imbalances into a quantitative model of bilateral trade in manufactures, dividing the world into forty countries. Fitting the model to 2004 data on GDP and bilateral trade we calculate how relative wages, real wages, and welfare would differ in a counterfactual world with all current accounts balancing. Our results indicate that closing the current accounts requires modest changes in relative wages. The country with the largest deficit (the United States) needs its wage to fall by around 10 percent relative to the country with the largest surplus (Japan). But the prevalence of nontraded goods means that the real wage in Japan barely rises while the U.S. real wage falls by less than 1 percent. The geographic barriers implied by the current pattern of trade are sufficiently asymmetric that large bilateral deficits remain even after current accounts balance. The U.S. manufacturing trade deficit with China falls to $65 billion from its 2004 level of $167 billion.

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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/aer.97.2.351
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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 97 (2007)
Issue (Month): 2 (May)
Pages: 351-355

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:97:y:2007:i:2:p:351-355
Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.97.2.351
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  1. Andrew B. Bernard & Jonathan Eaton & J. Bradford Jensen & Samuel Kortum, 2000. "Plants and Productivity in International Trade," Boston University - Institute for Economic Development 105, Boston University, Institute for Economic Development.
  2. Redding, Stephen J. & Venables, Anthony J, 2000. "Economic Geography and International Inequality," CEPR Discussion Papers 2568, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Dimitri B. Papadimitriou & Gennaro Zezza & Greg Hannsgen, 2006. "Can Global Imbalances Continue?: Policies for the U.S. Economy," Economics Strategic Analysis Archive sa_nov_06, Levy Economics Institute.
  4. Maurice Obstfeld & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 2005. "Global Current Account Imbalances and Exchange Rate Adjustments," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 36(1), pages 67-146.
  5. James E. Anderson & Eric van Wincoop, 2003. "Gravity with Gravitas: A Solution to the Border Puzzle," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 170-192, March.
  6. Michael E. Waugh, 2010. "International Trade and Income Differences," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(5), pages 2093-2124, December.
  7. Fernando Alvarez & Robert E. Lucas, 2005. "General Equilibrium Analysis of the Eaton-Kortum Model of International Trade," NBER Working Papers 11764, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Jonathan Eaton & Samuel Kortum, 2002. "Technology, Geography, and Trade," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(5), pages 1741-1779, September.
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