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The “Revealed” Competitiveness of U.S. Exports

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

    ()

  • F. Di Mauro

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.

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Paper provided by Centre for North South Economic Research, University of Cagliari and Sassari, Sardinia in its series Working Paper CRENoS with number 201232.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:cns:cnscwp:201232
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  1. Gregory Corcos & Massimo Del Gatto & Giordano Mion & Gianmarco I.P. Ottaviano, 2009. "Productivity and Firm Selection: Quantifying the "New" Gains from Trade," KITeS Working Papers 002, KITeS, Centre for Knowledge, Internationalization and Technology Studies, Universita' Bocconi, Milano, Italy, revised Mar 2009.
  2. Marc J. Melitz & Gianmarco I.P. Ottaviano, 2005. "Market Size, Trade, and Productivity," Development Working Papers 201, Centro Studi Luca d\'Agliano, University of Milano.
  3. Novy, Dennis, 2008. "Gravity Redux : Measuring International Trade Costs with Panel Data," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 861, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  4. Philippe Martin & Thierry Mayer & Mathias Thoenig, 2008. "Make Trade Not War?," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 75(3), pages 865-900.
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  6. Michael E. Waugh, 2009. "International trade and income differences," Staff Report 435, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  7. Patrizio Pagano & Massimo Sbracia & Andrea Finicelli, 2008. "Trade-revealed TFP," 2008 Meeting Papers 717, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  8. Gianmarco I.P. Ottaviano & Daria Taglioni & Filippo di Mauro, 2009. "The euro and the competitiveness of European firms," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 24, pages 5-53, 01.
  9. Harald Fadinger & Pablo Fleiss, 2011. "Trade and Sectoral Productivity," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 121(555), pages 958-989, 09.
  10. John Whalley & Xian Xin, 2007. "Regionalization, Changes in Home Bias, and the Growth of World Trade," NBER Working Papers 13023, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Chen, Natalie & Novy, Dennis, 2008. "International Trade Integration: A Disaggregated Approach," CEPR Discussion Papers 7103, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  12. Thierry Mayer & Keith Head & John Ries, 2008. "The Erosion of Colonial Trade Linkages after Independence," Working Papers 2008-27, CEPII research center.
  13. Keith Head & Thierry Mayer, 2000. "Non-Europe: The magnitude and causes of market fragmentation in the EU," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer, vol. 136(2), pages 284-314, June.
  14. David S. Jacks & Christopher M. Meissner & Dennis Novy, 2008. "Trade Costs, 1870-2000," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(2), pages 529-34, May.
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