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Trade Crisis? What Trade Crisis?

  • Kristian Behrens
  • Gregory Corcos
  • Giordano Mion

We provide an analysis of the 2008-2009 trade collapse using microdata from a small open economy, Belgium. First, we find that changes in firm-country-product exports and imports occurred mostly at the intensive margin: the number of firms, the average number of destination and origin markets per firm, and the average number of products per market changed only very little. Second, econometric analysis reveals some composition effects in the intensive margin fall along firm, product and country characteristics. The most important factor explaining changes in exports is the destination country's growth rate of GDP. Had growth rates in 2008{2009 been the same as in 2007{2008, Belgian exports would have fallen by about 57% less than what we observe. Trade in consumer durables and capital goods fell more severely than trade in other product categories, which explains another 22% of the observed fall. Financial variables and involvement in global value chains have some explanatory power on the exports and imports fall respectively, but appear to have affected domestic operations in equal proportion. More generally, exports-to-turnover and imports-to-intermediates ratios at the firm level did neither systematically decrease nor reveal strong firm- or sector-specific patterns. Overall, our results point to a demand-side explanation: the fall in trade was mostly driven by the fall in economic activity. It is not a trade crisis | just a trade collapse.

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Paper provided by Centre for Economic Performance, LSE in its series CEP Discussion Papers with number dp0995.

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Date of creation: Aug 2010
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Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp0995
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://cep.lse.ac.uk/_new/publications/series.asp?prog=CEP

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  1. Davin Chor & Kalina Manova, 2010. "Off the Cliff and Back? Credit Conditions and International Trade during the Global Financial Crisis," NBER Working Papers 16174, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Nicolas Berman and Philippe Martin, 2010. "The Vulnerability Of Sub-Saharan Africa To The Financial Crisis: The Case Of Trade," EUI-RSCAS Working Papers 15, European University Institute (EUI), Robert Schuman Centre of Advanced Studies (RSCAS).
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  10. Freund, Caroline, 2009. "The trade response to global downturns : historical evidence," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5015, The World Bank.
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  14. Araújo, Sónia & Oliveira Martins, Joaquim, 2011. "The Great Synchronisation : tracking the trade collapse with high-frequency data," Economics Papers from University Paris Dauphine 123456789/8088, Paris Dauphine University.
  15. James E. Rauch, 1996. "Networks versus Markets in International Trade," NBER Working Papers 5617, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  17. Agnès Bénassy-Quéré & Yvan Decreux & Lionel Fontagné & David Khoudour-Castéras, 2009. "Economic Crisis and Global Supply Chains," Working Papers 2009-15, CEPII research center.
  18. 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.
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