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Multinational firms and the new trade theory

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  • Markusen, James R.
  • Venables, Anthony J.

Abstract

A model is constructed in which multinational firms may arise endogenously. Multinationals exist in equilibrium when transport and tariff costs are high, incomes are high, and firm-level scale economies are important relative to plant-level scale economies. Less obvious, multinationals are more important in total economic activity when countries are more similar in incomes, relative factor endowments, and technologies. The model may thus be useful in explaining several stylized facts, including (a) the growing importance of direct investment relative to trade among the developed countries over time and (b) the greater ratio of investment to trade among the developed countries relative to this ratio for 'north-south' or 'south-south' economic relationships. The model offers predictions about the volume of trade that contrast with those of the 'new trade theory', predicting that trade at first rises and then falls as countries converge in incomes, relative endowments, and technologies. Welfare is also considered, and it is shown that direct investment makes the smaller (or high cost) country better off, but may make the larger (or low cost) country worse off.
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Suggested Citation

  • Markusen, James R. & Venables, Anthony J., 1998. "Multinational firms and the new trade theory," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(2), pages 183-203, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:inecon:v:46:y:1998:i:2:p:183-203
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Brander, James & Krugman, Paul, 1983. "A 'reciprocal dumping' model of international trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(3-4), pages 313-321, November.
    2. James R. Markusen, 2004. "Multinational Firms and the Theory of International Trade," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262633078, March.
    3. Ethier, Wilfred J. & Markusen, James R., 1996. "Multinational firms, technology diffusion and trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(1-2), pages 1-28, August.
    4. Markusen, James R., 1984. "Multinationals, multi-plant economies, and the gains from trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(3-4), pages 205-226, May.
    5. S. Lael Brainard, 1993. "A Simple Theory of Multinational Corporations and Trade with a Trade-Off Between Proximity and Concentration," NBER Working Papers 4269, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Horstmann, Ignatius J. & Markusen, James R., 1992. "Endogenous market structures in international trade (natura facit saltum)," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(1-2), pages 109-129, February.
    7. Venables, Anthony J., 1985. "Trade and trade policy with imperfect competition: The case of identical products and free entry," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(1-2), pages 1-19, August.
    8. S. Lael Brainard, 1993. "An Empirical Assessment of the Proximity-Concentration Tradeoff between Multinational Sales and Trade," NBER Working Papers 4580, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Helpman, Elhanan, 1984. "A Simple Theory of International Trade with Multinational Corporations," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 92(3), pages 451-471, June.
    10. Wilfred J. Ethier, 1986. "The Multinational Firm," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 101(4), pages 805-833.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F12 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Models of Trade with Imperfect Competition and Scale Economies; Fragmentation
    • F23 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - Multinational Firms; International Business

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