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Trade and Uncertainty

Listed author(s):
  • Dennis Novy
  • Alan M. Taylor

We offer a new explanation as to why international trade is so volatile in response to economic shocks. Our approach combines the uncertainty shock idea of Bloom (2009) with a model of international trade, extending the idea to the open economy. Firms import intermediate inputs from home or foreign suppliers, but with higher costs in the latter case. Due to fixed costs of ordering firms hold an inventory of intermediates. We show that in response to an uncertainty shock firms optimally adjust their inventory policy by cutting their orders of foreign intermediates disproportionately strongly. In the aggregate, this response leads to a bigger contraction in international trade flows than in domestic economic activity. We confront the model with newly-compiled monthly aggregate U.S. import data and industrial production data going back to 1962, and also with disaggregated data back to 1989. Our results suggest a tight link between uncertainty and the cyclical behavior of international trade.

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File URL: http://www.cesifo-group.de/portal/page/portal/DocBase_Content/WP/WP-CESifo_Working_Papers/wp-cesifo-2014/wp-cesifo-2014-05/cesifo1_wp4819.pdf
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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 4819.

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Date of creation: 2014
Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_4819
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  1. Eaton, Jonathan & Kortum, Sam & Neiman, Brent & Romalis, John, 2013. "Trade and the Global Recession," Working Papers 2013-21, University of Sydney, School of Economics.
  2. Guy Michaels & Ferdinand Rauch, 2013. "Resetting the Urban Network: 117-2012," CEP Discussion Papers dp1248, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  3. Daniel Paravisini & Veronica Rappoport & Philipp Schnabl & Daniel Wolfenzon, 2011. "Dissecting the Effect of Credit Supply on Trade: Evidence from Matched Credit-Export Data," NBER Working Papers 16975, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. George Alessandria & Joseph P. Kaboski & Virgiliu Midrigan, 2010. "The great trade collapse of 2008-2009: an inventory adjustment?," Working Papers 10-18, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  5. Virgiliu Midrigan & Joseph Kaboski & George Alessandria, 2010. "The Great Trade Collapse of 2008-09: An Inventory Adjustment?," 2010 Meeting Papers 107, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  6. Robert McDonald & Daniel Siegel, 1986. "The Value of Waiting to Invest," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 101(4), pages 707-727.
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