IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Sunk Costs of Exports

  • Matteo Bugamelli


    (Bank of Italy, Economic Research Department)

  • Luigi Infante


    (Bank of Italy, Milan)

Using a very large panel dataset of Italian manufacturing firms, we test an empirical model of foreign markets participation with sunk costs. The period of analysis (1982-1999) is exceptionally informative: the large fluctuations in the lira exchange rate determined substantial flows of firms in and out of foreign markets. We find that sunk costs of exporting are very important: past experience in foreign markets increases the probability of exporting by about 70 percentage points. Although the assets entailing such costs depreciate quite slowly, new exporters have to acquire them very soon after entry. Altogether, these results suggest that the break in the Italian aggregate export supply function caused by the depreciation of the 1990s can be considerable and long-lasting. We then relate sunk costs to firm size and find that they are an important barrier to export, especially for the myriad of Italian small and medium firms. Finally, we provide some new evidence that sunk costs are indeed related to the need to collect information on foreign market/country characteristics.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area in its series Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) with number 469.

in new window

Date of creation: Mar 2003
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:bdi:wptemi:td_469_03
Contact details of provider: Postal: Via Nazionale, 91 - 00184 Roma
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Filippo Altissimo & Eugenio Gaiotti & Alberto Locarno, 2004. "Is money informative? Evidence from a large model used for policy analysis," Macroeconomics 0404018, EconWPA, revised 24 Apr 2004.
  2. Dixit, Avinash K, 1989. "Hysteresis, Import Penetration, and Exchange Rate Pass-Through," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 104(2), pages 205-28, May.
  3. Sofronis K. Clerides & Saul Lach & James R. Tybout, 1998. "Is Learning By Exporting Important? Micro-Dynamic Evidence From Colombia, Mexico, And Morocco," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 113(3), pages 903-947, August.
  4. Luigi Guiso & Fabiano Schivardi, 2000. "Information Spillovers and Factor Adjustment," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 368, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
  5. Roberts, Mark J & Tybout, James R, 1997. "The Decision to Export in Colombia: An Empirical Model of Entry with Sunk Costs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(4), pages 545-64, September.
  6. Campa, Jose Manuel, 2004. "Exchange rates and trade: How important is hysteresis in trade?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 48(3), pages 527-548, June.
  7. Baldwin, Richard & Krugman, Paul, 1989. "Persistent Trade Effects of Large Exchange Rate Shocks," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 104(4), pages 635-54, November.
  8. J Bradford Jensen & Andrew B Bernard, 2001. "Why Some Firms Export," Working Papers 01-05, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  9. Andrew Henley, 2004. "Self-Employment Status: The Role of State Dependence and Initial Circumstances," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 22(1), pages 67-82, 02.
  10. Basevi, Giorgio, 1970. "Domestic Demand and Ability to Export," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 78(2), pages 330-37, March-Apr.
  11. Andrew Bernard & Joachim Wagner, 2001. "Export entry and exit by German firms," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer, vol. 137(1), pages 105-123, March.
  12. Baldwin, Richard, 1988. "Hyteresis in Import Prices: The Beachhead Effect," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(4), pages 773-85, September.
  13. Matteo Bugamelli & Patrizio Pagano, 2004. "Barriers to investment in ICT," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 36(20), pages 2275-2286.
  14. Dixit, Avinash K, 1989. "Entry and Exit Decisions under Uncertainty," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(3), pages 620-38, June.
  15. Dunne, Timothy & Roberts, Mark J & Samuelson, Larry, 1989. "The Growth and Failure of U.S. Manufacturing Plants," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 104(4), pages 671-98, November.
  16. Arulampalam, Wiji & Booth, Alison L & Taylor, Mark P, 2000. "Unemployment Persistence," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 52(1), pages 24-50, January.
  17. Bernard, A. & Wagner, J., 1996. "Exports and Success in German Manufacturing," Working papers 96-10, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  18. Caves, Richard E., 1989. "International differences in industrial organization," Handbook of Industrial Organization, in: R. Schmalensee & R. Willig (ed.), Handbook of Industrial Organization, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 21, pages 1225-1250 Elsevier.
  19. Richard Baldwin, 1989. "Sunk-Cost Hysteresis," NBER Working Papers 2911, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. James R. Tybout, 2001. "Plant- and Firm-Level Evidence on "New" Trade Theories," NBER Working Papers 8418, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:bdi:wptemi:td_469_03. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.