IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

Nonlinear Aspects of Goods-Market Arbitrage and Adjustment: Heckscher's Commodity Points Revisited

  • Obstfeld, Maurice
  • Taylor, Alan M.

We propose that analysis of purchasing power parity (PPP) and the law of one price (LOOP) should explicitly take into account the possibility of ‘commodity points’ – thresholds delineating a region of no central tendency among relative prices, possibly due to lack of perfect arbitrage in the presence of transaction costs and uncertainty. More than 80 years ago, Heckscher stressed the importance of such incomplete arbitrage in the empirical application of PPP. We devise an econometric method to identify commodity points. Price adjustment is treated as a non-linear process, and a threshold autoregression (TAR) offers a parsimonious specification within which both thresholds and adjustment speeds are estimated by maximum likelihood methods. Our model performs well using post-1980 data, and yields parameter estimates that appear quite reasonable. Adjustment outside the thresholds might imply half-lives of price deviations measured in months rather than years, and the thresholds correspond to popular rough estimates of the order of magnitude of actual transport costs. The estimated commodity points appear to be positively related to objective measures of market segmentation, notably nominal exchange rate volatility.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: CEPR Discussion Papers are free to download for our researchers, subscribers and members. If you fall into one of these categories but have trouble downloading our papers, please contact us at

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 1672.

in new window

Date of creation: Jul 1997
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:1672
Contact details of provider: Postal:
Centre for Economic Policy Research, 77 Bastwick Street, London EC1V 3PZ.

Phone: 44 - 20 - 7183 8801
Fax: 44 - 20 - 7183 8820

Order Information: Email:

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Kenneth A. Froot & Michael Kim & Kenneth Rogoff, 1995. "The Law of One Price Over 700 Years," NBER Working Papers 5132, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Maurice Obstfeld, 1999. "Open-Economy Macroeconomics, Developments in Theory and Policy," NBER Working Papers 6319, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Maurice Obstfeld., 1993. "Model Trending Real Exchange Rates," Center for International and Development Economics Research (CIDER) Working Papers C93-011, University of California at Berkeley.
  4. Jong-Wha Lee & Phillip Swagel, 1994. "Trade Barriers and Trade Flows across Countries and Industries," NBER Working Papers 4799, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Balke, Nathan S & Fomby, Thomas B, 1997. "Threshold Cointegration," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 38(3), pages 627-45, August.
  6. Russell Davidson & James G. MacKinnon, 1980. "Several Tests for Model Specification in the Presence of Alternative Hypotheses," Working Papers 378, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  7. Jorion, Philippe & Sweeney, Richard J., 1996. "Mean reversion in real exchange rates: evidence and implications for forecasting," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 15(4), pages 535-550, August.
  8. Dumas, Bernard, 1992. "Dynamic Equilibrium and the Real Exchange Rate in a Spatially Separated World," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 5(2), pages 153-80.
  9. Williams,Jeffrey C. & Wright,Brian D., 2005. "Storage and Commodity Markets," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521023399, April.
  10. Jeffrey A. Frankel & Andrew K. Rose, 1995. "A Panel Project on Purchasing Power Parity: Mean Reversion Within and Between Countries," NBER Working Papers 5006, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Kenneth A. Froot & Kenneth Rogoff, 1994. "Perspectives on PPP and Long-Run Real Exchange Rates," NBER Working Papers 4952, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Jeffrey A. Frankel, 1993. "On Exchange Rates," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262061546, December.
  13. Engel, C., 1996. "Long-Run PPP May Not Hold After All," Working Papers 96-05, University of Washington, Department of Economics.
  14. Lothian, James R & Taylor, Mark P, 1996. "Real Exchange Rate Behavior: The Recent Float from the Perspective of the Past Two Centuries," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(3), pages 488-509, June.
  15. Engel, C. & Rogers, J.H., 1996. "Regional Patterns in the Law of One Price: The Roles of Geography vs. Currencies," Working Papers 96-01, University of Washington, Department of Economics.
  16. Michael, Panos & Nobay, A Robert & Peel, David A, 1997. "Transactions Costs and Nonlinear Adjustment in Real Exchange Rates: An Empirical Investigation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(4), pages 862-79, August.
  17. Lapham, Beverly J., 1995. "A dynamic general equilibrium analysis of deviations from the laws of one price," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 19(8), pages 1355-1389, November.
  18. Asea, Patrick K & Mendoza, Enrique G, 1994. "The Balassa-Samuelson Model: A General-Equilibrium Appraisal," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 2(3), pages 244-67, October.
  19. Charles Engel, 1999. "Accounting for U.S. Real Exchange Rate Changes," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(3), pages 507-538, June.
  20. Matthew B. Canzoneri & Robert E. Cumby & Behzad Diba, 1996. "Relative Labor Productivity and the Real Exchange Rate in the Long Run: Evidence for a Panel of OECD Countries," NBER Working Papers 5676, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  21. David C. Parsley & Shang-Jin Wei, 1996. "Convergence to the Law of One Price Without Trade Barriers or Currency Fluctuations," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 111(4), pages 1211-1236.
  22. Kenneth Rogoff, 1996. "The Purchasing Power Parity Puzzle," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 34(2), pages 647-668, June.
  23. Patrick K. Asea, 1994. "The Balassa-Samuelson Model: A General Equilibrium Appraisal," UCLA Economics Working Papers 709, UCLA Department of Economics.
  24. Oh, Keun-Yeob, 1996. "Purchasing power parity and unit root tests using panel data," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 15(3), pages 405-418, June.
  25. Lothian, James R., 1997. "Multi-country evidence on the behavior of purchasing power parity under the current float," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 16(1), pages 19-35, February.
  26. Alan M. Taylor, 1996. "International Capital Mobility in History: Purchasing-Power Parity in the Long Run," NBER Working Papers 5742, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  27. Obstfeld, Maurice, 1993. "Model Trending Real Exchange Rates," Center for International and Development Economics Research (CIDER) Working Papers 233187, University of California-Berkeley, Department of Economics.
  28. Wu, Yangru, 1996. "Are Real Exchange Rates Nonstationary? Evidence from a Panel-Data Test," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 28(1), pages 54-63, February.
  29. Sercu, Piet & Uppal, Raman & Van Hulle, Cynthia, 1995. " The Exchange Rate in the Presence of Transaction Costs: Implications for Tests of Purchasing Power Parity," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 50(4), pages 1309-19, September.
  30. Engel, Charles & Hendrickson, Michael K. & Rogers, John H., 1997. "Intranational, Intracontinental, and Intraplanetary PPP," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 11(4), pages 480-501, December.
  31. Gauri Prakash & Alan M. Taylor, 1997. "Measuring Market Integration: A Model of Arbitrage with an Econometric Application to the Gold Standard, 1879-1913," NBER Working Papers 6073, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  32. Evans, G B A & Savin, N E, 1981. "Testing for Unit Roots: 1," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 49(3), pages 753-79, May.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:1672. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.