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Terms Of Trade Effects: Theory And Measurement

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  • Marshall B. Reinsdorf

Abstract

Foreign trade enables a nation to consume a different mix of goods and services than it produces, so to measure real gross domestic income (GDI) for an open economy, we must deflate by an index of the prices of the things that this income is used to buy, not the price index for GDP. The differences between these two indexes come from the export and import components of GDP, and are measured by the trading gains index. Fisher indexes are a natural way to estimate the conceptual economic indexes of trading gains and real GDI because they are averages of the theoretical upper and lower bounds of the economic indexes. They can be decomposed in a way that permits analyses of the factors driving changes in trading gains, such as changes in the terms of trade and in the relative price of tradables, or changes in the prices of particular commodities. Applying these methods to the United States, we find that trading gains have a median absolute effect on U.S. real GDI of 0.2 percentage points in annual data. The petroleum price shocks that occurred in late 1973 and in 1980 subtracted more than a full percentage point from the annual growth of real GDI, and in the first half of 2008 price increases in petroleum and other imported commodities subtracted 2 percentage points from the annual rate of growth of real GDI, making it negative despite the steady growth of real GDP. On the other hand, with petroleum prices excluded, U.S. terms of trade begin to improve steadily starting in 1995 and the relative price of tradables falls. These effects increase the growth rate of U.S. real GDI by 0.15 percent per year on average.

Suggested Citation

  • Marshall B. Reinsdorf, 2010. "Terms Of Trade Effects: Theory And Measurement," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 56(s1), pages 177-205, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:revinw:v:56:y:2010:i:s1:p:s177-s205
    DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-4991.2010.00384.x
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    Cited by:

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    2. Nicholas Oulton, 2019. "GDP is a measure of output, not welfare. Or, HOS meets the SNA," Economic Statistics Centre of Excellence (ESCoE) Discussion Papers ESCoE DP-2019-06, Economic Statistics Centre of Excellence (ESCoE).
    3. Böhringer, Christoph & Schneider, Jan & Asane-Otoo, Emmanuel, 2016. "Trade In Carbon And The Effectiveness Of Carbon Tariffs," VfS Annual Conference 2016 (Augsburg): Demographic Change 145628, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    4. Ville Kaitila, 2016. "GDP growth in Russia: different capital stock series and the terms of trade," Post-Communist Economies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 28(2), pages 129-145, April.
    5. Van Tongeren, J.W. & Magnus, J.R., 2011. "Bayesian Integration of Large Scale SNA Data Frameworks with an Application to Guatemala," Other publications TiSEM 7a0ed98e-134b-4fa4-a97c-4, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
    6. Wolfgang Nierhaus, 2019. "Realwert des Bruttoinlandsprodukts und Terms of Trade: Methodik und Ergebnisse für das Jahr 2018," ifo Schnelldienst, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 72(04), pages 44-52, February.
    7. Van Tongeren, J.W. & Magnus, J.R., 2011. "Bayesian Integration of Large Scale SNA Data Frameworks with an Application to Guatemala," Discussion Paper 2011-022, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
    8. Van Tongeren, J.W., 2011. "From national accounting to the design, compilation, and use of bayesian policy and analysis frameworks," Other publications TiSEM e2d6399b-fdf5-4147-b414-3, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
    9. Robert J. Hill & Alice O. Nakamura, 2010. "Improving Inflation And Related Performance Measures For Nations: An Introduction," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 56(s1), pages 1-10, June.
    10. Shutao Cao & Sharon Kozicki, 2017. "Real GDI, Productivity, and the Terms of Trade in Canada," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 63, pages 134-148, February.

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