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The "Revealed" Competitiveness of U.S. Exports

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  • J. Gruber
  • B. Mandel
  • M. Del Gatto

    ()

  • F. Di Mauro

Abstract

We investigate the factors behind the recent decline in the U.S. share of world merchandise exports in an attempt to determine how big a role the changing productivity of U.S. firms has played. We do so against the backdrop of a measure of cost competitiveness which, insofar it is inferred from actual trade ows, we refer to as 'revealed marginal costs' (RMC). Although, in line with our purpose, we derive such measure as an implication of a trade model with (intra-industry) firm heterogeneity, computation does not require firm level data but only aggregate bilateral trade ows, domestic trade included. Brought to the data for the manufacturing sector, such measure reveals that, notwithstanding significant heterogeneity across industries, most U.S. sectors are indeed losing momentum relative to their main competitors, as we find U.S.'s RMC to grow by an average 14%, relative to the other G20 countries. The RMC structure identifies in market size, trade freeness and imports its "revealing-observable" components - while market size is found to be the main responsible of such decline on average, cost competitiveness seems to have benefited from a good combination of increasing trade freeness and decreasing imports, relative to the other G20 countries. The best performing countries in terms of RMC (China and India among others) characterize, however, for an increase in trade freeness higher than in the U.S. At the sectoral level, the "Machinery" industry is the most critical, followed by the "Chemicals" and "Equipment" industries.

Suggested Citation

  • J. Gruber & B. Mandel & M. Del Gatto & F. Di Mauro, 2012. "The "Revealed" Competitiveness of U.S. Exports," Working Paper CRENoS 201232, Centre for North South Economic Research, University of Cagliari and Sassari, Sardinia.
  • Handle: RePEc:cns:cnscwp:201232
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Daniel de Munnik & Jocelyn Jacob & Wesley Sze, 2012. "The Evolution of Canada’s Global Export Market Share," Staff Working Papers 12-31, Bank of Canada.
    2. di Mauro, Filippo & Del Gatto, Massimo & Gruber, Joseph & Mandel, Benjamin, 2012. "The structural determinants of the US competitiveness in the last decades: a "trade-revealing" analysis," Working Paper Series 1443, European Central Bank.
    3. J. David Richardson & Asha Sundaram, 2013. "Sizing Up US Export Disincentives for a New Generation of National-Security Export Controls," Policy Briefs PB13-13, Peterson Institute for International Economics.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    trade costs; productivity; marginal costs; gravity equation; firm selection; firm heterogeneity; export shares; competitiveness;

    JEL classification:

    • R13 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - General Equilibrium and Welfare Economic Analysis of Regional Economies
    • F12 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Models of Trade with Imperfect Competition and Scale Economies; Fragmentation

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