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Market imperfections, wealth inequality, and the distribution of trade gains

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  • Foellmi, Reto
  • Oechslin, Manuel

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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  • Foellmi, Reto & Oechslin, Manuel, 2010. "Market imperfections, wealth inequality, and the distribution of trade gains," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 81(1), pages 15-25, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:inecon:v:81:y:2010:i:1:p:15-25
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    Cited by:

    1. Foellmi, Reto & Legge, Stefan & Tiemann, Alexa, 2015. "Innovation and Trade in the Presence of Credit Constraints," CEPR Discussion Papers 10391, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Maximilian von Ehrlich & Tobias Seidel, 2016. "Financial Development and Inequality in the Global Economy," CESifo Working Paper Series 5776, CESifo Group Munich.
    3. Spiros Bougheas & Rod Falvey, "undated". "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).
    4. Martin Grossmann & Helmut Dietl, 2012. "Asymmetric contests with liquidity constraints," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 150(3), pages 691-713, March.
    5. Hiroshi Daisaka & Taiji Furusawa & Noriyuki Yanagawa, 2014. "Globalization, Financial Development and Income Inequality," Pacific Economic Review, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 19(5), pages 612-633, December.
    6. Taiji Furusawa & Noriyuki Yanagawa, 2010. "Firm Heterogeneity under Financial Imperfection: Impacts of Trade and Capital Movement," CIRJE F-Series CIRJE-F-768, CIRJE, Faculty of Economics, University of Tokyo.
    7. Irlacher, Michael & Unger, Florian, 2018. "Capital market imperfections and trade liberalization in general equilibrium," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 145(C), pages 402-423.
    8. repec:dau:papers:123456789/10331 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Mauro Caselli, 2012. "Does wealth inequality reduce the gains from trade?," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer;Institut für Weltwirtschaft (Kiel Institute for the World Economy), vol. 148(2), pages 333-356, June.
    10. repec:spr:jknowl:v:8:y:2017:i:1:d:10.1007_s13132-016-0363-y is not listed on IDEAS
    11. 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.
    12. Lixin Tang, 2014. "Top Income Inequality, Aggregate Saving and the Gains from Trade," 2014 Papers pta581, Job Market Papers.
    13. Sugata Marjit & Suryaprakash Mishra, 2016. "Credit, Inequality and Trade," Discussion Papers Series 559, School of Economics, University of Queensland, Australia.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Wealth inequality Trade liberalization Credit market frictions Top incomes;

    JEL classification:

    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • F13 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade Policy; International Trade Organizations
    • O16 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Financial Markets; Saving and Capital Investment; Corporate Finance and Governance

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