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International Competitiveness of the Mediterranean Quartet: A Heterogeneous-Product Approach

  • Herman Z Bennett
  • Ziga Zarnic

The real effective exchange rate (REER) is the most commonly used measure for assessing international competitiveness. This paper develops a methodology to estimate the REER that incorporates two distinctive elements that are not considered in the current literature and applies it to the Mediterranean quartet (MQ) of Greece, Italy, Portugal, and Spain, whose common pattern of real appreciation has created concern in policy and academic circles. The two elements that this paper adds to the existing literature are (1) product heterogeneity when identifying each country's international competitors and their weights, and (2) a comprehensive treatment of services exports. Our refined measure suggests a modest reduction in the observed REER gap between the MQ countries and the other euro area countries. In particular, considering product heterogeneity and services exports implies a lower real appreciation from 1998 to 2006 on the order of 2 to 3 percent for all MQ countries. These are difference-in-difference estimates relative to the results obtained for the rest of the euro area countries using the same methodology.

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Article provided by Palgrave Macmillan in its journal IMF Staff Papers.

Volume (Year): 56 (2009)
Issue (Month): 4 (November)
Pages: 919-957

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Handle: RePEc:pal:imfstp:v:56:y:2009:i:4:p:919-957
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  1. Ian Marsh & Stephen Tokarick, 1996. "An assessment of three measures of competitiveness," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer, vol. 132(4), pages 700-722, December.
  2. Mico Loretan, 2005. "Indexes of the foreign exchange value of the dollar," Federal Reserve Bulletin, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.), issue Win, pages 1-8.
  3. Menzie D. Chinn, 2005. "A Primer on Real Effective Exchange Rates: Determinants, Overvaluation, Trade Flows and Competitive Devaluation," NBER Working Papers 11521, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  7. J. Peter Neary, 2005. "Measuring competitiveness," Working Papers 200521, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
  8. International Monetary Fund, 2005. "New Rates from New Weights," IMF Working Papers 05/99, International Monetary Fund.
  9. Paul E. Jensen, 2006. "Trade, Entry Barriers, and Home Market Effects," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 14(1), pages 104-118, 02.
  10. Kenneth Rogoff, 1996. "The Purchasing Power Parity Puzzle," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 34(2), pages 647-668, June.
  11. Rauch, James E., 1999. "Networks versus markets in international trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 7-35, June.
  12. Martine Durand & Jacques Simon & Colin Webb, 1992. "OECD's Indicators of International Trade and Competitiveness," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 120, OECD Publishing.
  13. Luca Buldorini & Stelios Makrydakis & Christian Thimann, 2002. "The effective exchange rates of the euro," Occasional Paper Series 02, European Central Bank.
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