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Protection and the Business Cycle

  • Bagwell Kyle

    ()

    (Columbia University)

  • Staiger Robert W.

    ()

    (University of Wisconsin, Madison)

Empirical studies have repeatedly documented the countercyclical nature of trade barriers. In this paper, we propose a simple theoretical framework that is consistent with this and other empirical regularities in the relationship between protection and the business cycle. Focusing on self-enforcing trade agreements, we find theoretical support for countercyclical movements in protection levels. The fast growth in trade volume that is associated with a boom phase facilitates the maintenance of more liberal trade policies than can be sustained during a recession phase in which growth is slow. We also find that acyclic increases in the level of trade volume give rise to protection, implying that whether rising imports are met with greater liberalization or increased protection depends on whether they are part of a cyclic upward trend in trade volume or an acyclic increase in import levels.

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Article provided by De Gruyter in its journal The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy.

Volume (Year): 3 (2003)
Issue (Month): 1 (September)
Pages: 1-45

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Handle: RePEc:bpj:bejeap:v:advances.3:y:2003:i:1:n:3
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  1. David K. Backus & Patrick J. Kehoe & Finn E. Kydland, 1992. "Dynamics of the trade balance and the terms of trade: the S-curve," Working Paper 9211, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
  2. Rotemberg, Julio J & Saloner, Garth, 1986. "A Supergame-Theoretic Model of Price Wars during Booms," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(3), pages 390-407, June.
  3. Kyle Bagwell & Robert W. Staiger, 1995. "Collusion Over the Business Cycle," Discussion Papers 1118, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  4. Kyle Bagwell & Robert W. Staiger, 1989. "A Theory of Managed Trade," Discussion Papers 801, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  5. Hansen, John Mark, 1990. "Taxation and the political economy of the tariff," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 44(04), pages 527-551, September.
  6. Pierre Danthine, Jean & Donaldson, John B., 1993. "Methodological and empirical issues in real business cycle theory," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 1-35, January.
  7. Bohara, Alok K & Kaempfer, William H, 1991. "A Test of Tariff Endogeneity in the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(4), pages 952-60, September.
  8. Grossman, Gene & Helpman, Elhanan, 1993. "Protection for Sale," CEPR Discussion Papers 827, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  9. Abreu, Dilip, 1986. "Extremal equilibria of oligopolistic supergames," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 191-225, June.
  10. Baldwin, Richard, 1987. "Politically realistic objective functions and trade policy PROFs and tariffs," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 24(3), pages 287-290.
  11. Hamilton, James D, 1989. "A New Approach to the Economic Analysis of Nonstationary Time Series and the Business Cycle," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(2), pages 357-84, March.
  12. Kyle Bagwell & Robert W. Staiger, 1996. "Reciprocal Trade Liberalization," NBER Working Papers 5488, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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