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The Geography of Trade in Goods and Asset Holdings




Gravity models have been widely used to describe bilateral trade in goods. Recently, Portes and Rey [1999] applied this framework to cross border equity flows and found that distance, which proxies information asymmetries in financial markets, is a surprisingly very large barrier to cross-border asset trade. We adopt here a different point of view and explore the complementarity between bilateral trade in goods and bilateral asset holdings. We jointly study trade in goods and banking assets in a simultaneous gravity equations framework using different instruments for both endogenous variables. To instrument trade in goods, we choose geographical variables (excluding distance) and data on bilateral transport costs. For asset holdings, we use legal similarities between countries and data on the international taxation of withheld capital. We find that the strong correlation between bilateral trade in goods and asset holdings is not simply due to distance: bilateral trade in goods generates bilateral asset holdings and vice versa. Those effects are of first order magnitude: a 10% increase in trade generates a 6 to 7% increase of asset holdings, and a 10% increase in banking claims induces a 2 to 3% increase in trade. Finally, we investigate the question of the remaining impact of distance. We find out that the impact of distance on trade in goods is only slightly reduced, while for asset holdings, a large part of the effect of distance is going through trade.

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  • Aviat, Antonin & Coeurdacier, Nicolas, 2006. "The Geography of Trade in Goods and Asset Holdings," ESSEC Working Papers DR 06012, ESSEC Research Center, ESSEC Business School.
  • Handle: RePEc:ebg:essewp:dr-06012

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item


    Gravity Models; International Finance; International Trade; Simultaneous Equations;

    JEL classification:

    • C31 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Multiple or Simultaneous Equation Models; Multiple Variables - - - Cross-Sectional Models; Spatial Models; Treatment Effect Models; Quantile Regressions; Social Interaction Models
    • F10 - International Economics - - Trade - - - General
    • F36 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Financial Aspects of Economic Integration

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