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Prebisch-Singer Redux

  • John T. Cuddington
  • Rodney Ludema
  • Shamila A Jayasuriya

In light of ongoing concern about commodity specialization in Latin America, this paper revisits the argument of Prebisch (1950) that, over the long term, declining terms of trade would frustrate the development goals of the region. This paper has two main objectives. The first is to clarify the issues raised by Prebisch and Singer (1950), as they relate the commodity specialization of developing countries (and Latin America in particular). The second is to reconsider empirically the issue of trends in commodity prices, using recent data and techniques. We show that rather than a downward trend, real primary prices over the last century have experienced one or more abrupt shifts, or “structural breaks,” downwards. The preponderance evidence points to a single break in 1921, with no trend, positive or negative, before or since.

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Paper provided by Central Bank of Chile in its series Working Papers Central Bank of Chile with number 140.

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Date of creation: Feb 2002
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Handle: RePEc:chb:bcchwp:140
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  1. Spraos, John, 1980. "The Statistical Debate on the Net Barter Terms of Trade between Primary Commodities and Manufactures," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 90(357), pages 107-28, March.
  2. Peter Wickham & Carmen Reinhart, 1994. "Commodity Prices: Cyclical Weakness or Secular Decline?," IMF Working Papers 94/7, International Monetary Fund.
  3. Paul Cashin & C. John McDermott, 2001. "The Long-Run Behavior of Commodity Prices: Small Trends and Big Variability," IMF Working Papers 01/68, International Monetary Fund.
  4. Paul Cashin & Hong Liang & C. John McDermott, 2000. "How Persistent Are Shocks to World Commodity Prices?," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 47(2), pages 2.
  5. Deaton, A. & Laroque, G., 1989. "On The Behavior Of Commodity Prices," Papers 145, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Public and International Affairs.
  6. Bloch, Harry & Sapsford, David, 2000. "Whither the Terms of Trade? An Elaboration of the Prebisch-Singer Hypothesis," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 24(4), pages 461-81, July.
  7. repec:imf:imfwpa:99/80 is not listed on IDEAS
  8. Perron, Pierre, 1989. "The Great Crash, the Oil Price Shock, and the Unit Root Hypothesis," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(6), pages 1361-1401, November.
  9. Roy Bailey and Marcus Chambers, . "A Theory of Commodity Price Fluctuations," Economics Discussion Papers 432, University of Essex, Department of Economics.
  10. Zivot, Eric & Andrews, Donald W K, 2002. "Further Evidence on the Great Crash, the Oil-Price Shock, and the Unit-Root Hypothesis," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 20(1), pages 25-44, January.
  11. Javier Le�N & Raimundo Soto, 1997. "Structural Breaks And Long-Run Trends In Commodity Prices," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 9(3), pages 347-366.
  12. Lawrence J. Christiano, 1988. "Searching For a Break in GNP," NBER Working Papers 2695, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Powell, A., 1989. "Commodity And Developing Country Terms Of Trade, What Does The Long Run Show?," Economics Series Working Papers 9980, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  14. Donald W.K. Andrews, 1990. "Tests for Parameter Instability and Structural Change with Unknown Change Point," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 943, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  15. Perron, Pierre & Vogelsang, Timothy J, 1992. "Nonstationarity and Level Shifts with an Application to Purchasing Power Parity," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 10(3), pages 301-20, July.
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  17. Hadass, Yael S & Williamson, Jeffrey G, 2003. "Terms-of-Trade Shocks and Economic Performance, 1870-1940: Prebisch and Singer Revisited," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 51(3), pages 629-56, April.
  18. Cuddington, John T & Urzua, Carlos M, 1989. "Trends and Cycles in the Net Barter Terms of Trade: A New Approach," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 99(396), pages 426-42, June.
  19. Anindya Banerjee & Robin L. Lumsdaine & James H. Stock, 1990. "Recursive and Sequential Tests of the Unit Root and Trend Break Hypothesis: Theory and International Evidence," NBER Working Papers 3510, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Eduardo Borensztein & Carmen M. Reinhart, 1994. "The Macroeconomic Determinants of Commodity Prices," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 41(2), pages 236-261, June.
  21. Harry Bloch & David Sapsford, . "Prebisch and Singer Effects on the Terms of Trade Between Primary Producers and Manufacturers," Working Papers ec6/96, Department of Economics, University of Lancaster.
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  25. repec:imf:imfwpa:94/9 is not listed on IDEAS
  26. Diakosavvas, Dimitris & Scandizzo, Pasquale Lucio, 1991. "Trends in the Terms of Trade of Primary Commodities, 1900-1982: The Controversy and Its Origins," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 39(2), pages 231-64, January.
  27. Sapsford, D, 1985. "The Statistical Debate on the Net Barter Terms of Trade between Primary Commodities and Manufactures: A Comment and Some Additional Evidence," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 95(379), pages 781-88, September.
  28. Nelson, Charles R & Kang, Heejoon, 1979. "Spurious Periodicity in Inappropriately Detrended Time Series," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 161, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  29. John T. Cuddington, 1992. "An empirical analysis of real commodity price trends: Aggregation, model selection and implications," Estudios Económicos, El Colegio de México, Centro de Estudios Económicos, vol. 7(2), pages 159-179.
  30. Ploberger, Werner & Kramer, Walter & Kontrus, Karl, 1989. "A new test for structural stability in the linear regression model," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 40(2), pages 307-318, February.
  31. Cuddington, John T., 1992. "Long-run trends in 26 primary commodity prices : A disaggregated look at the Prebisch-Singer hypothesis," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(2), pages 207-227, October.
  32. Leybourne, Stephen J. & C. Mills, Terence & Newbold, Paul, 1998. "Spurious rejections by Dickey-Fuller tests in the presence of a break under the null," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 87(1), pages 191-203, August.
  33. Plosser, Charles I. & Schwert*, G. William, 1978. "Money, income, and sunspots: Measuring economic relationships and the effects of differencing," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 4(4), pages 637-660, November.
  34. Mehl, Arnaud, 2000. "Unit root tests with double trend breaks and the 1990s recession in Japan," Japan and the World Economy, Elsevier, vol. 12(4), pages 363-379, December.
  35. Ardeni, Pier Giorgio & Wright, Brian, 1992. "The Prebisch-Singer Hypothesis: A Reappraisal Independent of Stationarity Hypotheses," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 102(413), pages 803-12, July.
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