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Dynamics of the trade balance and the terms of trade: the S-curve

  • David K. Backus
  • Patrick J. Kehoe
  • Finn E. Kydland

We provide a theoretical interpretation of two features of international data: the countercyclical movements in net exports and the tendency for the trade balance to be negatively correlated with current and future movements in the terms of trade, but positively correlated with past movements. We document these same properties in a two-country stochastic growth model in which trade fluctuations reflect, in large part, the dynamics of capital formation. We find that the general equilibrium perspective is essential: The relation between the trade balance and the terms of trade depends critically on the source of fluctuations.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland in its series Working Paper with number 9211.

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Date of creation: 1992
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:fip:fedcwp:9211
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  1. Alan C. Stockman & Linda L. Tesar, 1990. "Tastes and Technology in a Two-Country Model of the Business Cycle: Explaining International Comovements," NBER Working Papers 3566, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Dornbusch, Rudiger, 1983. "Real Interest Rates, Home Goods, and Optimal External Borrowing," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 91(1), pages 141-53, February.
  3. Obstfeld, Maurice, 1982. "Aggregate Spending and the Terms of Trade: Is There a Laursen-Metzler Effect?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 97(2), pages 251-70, May.
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  8. Matsuyama, Kiminori, 1988. "Terms-of-Trade, Factor Intensities and the Current Account in a Life-Cycle Model," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 55(2), pages 247-62, April.
  9. Christian Zimmermann, 1996. "International Real Business Cycles among Heterogeneous Countries," Macroeconomics 9607002, EconWPA.
  10. Svensson, Lars E O & Razin, Assaf, 1983. "The Terms of Trade and the Current Account: The Harberger-Laursen-Metzler Effect," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 91(1), pages 97-125, February.
  11. Obstfeld, Maurice, 1989. "Fiscal deficits and relative prices in a growing world economy," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(3), pages 461-484, May.
  12. John Hassler & Petter Lundvik & Torsten Persson & Paul Soderlind, 1992. "The Swedish business cycle: stylized facts over 130 years," Discussion Paper / Institute for Empirical Macroeconomics 63, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  13. King, R.G. & Rebelo, S.T., 1989. "Low Frequency Filtering And Real Business Cycles," RCER Working Papers 205, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
  14. Dixit, Avinash K, 1989. "Entry and Exit Decisions under Uncertainty," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(3), pages 620-38, June.
  15. Stephen P. Magee, 1973. "Currency Contracts, Pass-Through, and Devaluation," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 4(1), pages 303-325.
  16. V. V. Chari & Lawrence J. Christiano & Patrick J. Kehoe, 1993. "Optimal Fiscal Policy in a Business Cycle Model," NBER Working Papers 4490, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Ambler, Steve & Cardia, Emanuela & Zimmermann, Christian, 2004. "International business cycles: What are the facts?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(2), pages 257-276, March.
  18. Stockman, Alan C. & Svensson, Lars E. O., 1987. "Capital flows, investment, and exchange rates," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 171-201, March.
  19. Junz, Helen B & Rhomberg, Rudolf R, 1973. "Price Competitiveness in Export Trade Among Industrial Countries," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 63(2), pages 412-18, May.
  20. David K. Backus & Patrick J. Kehoe & Finn E. Kydland, 1993. "International Business Cycles: Theory and Evidence," Working Papers 93-21, New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, Department of Economics.
  21. Helen B. Junz & Rudolf R. Rhomberg, 1973. "Price competitiveness in export trade among industrial countries," International Finance Discussion Papers 22, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  22. Ellen E. Meade, 1988. "Exchange rates, adjustment, and the J-curve," Federal Reserve Bulletin, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.), issue Oct, pages 633-644.
  23. Kydland, Finn E & Prescott, Edward C, 1982. "Time to Build and Aggregate Fluctuations," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(6), pages 1345-70, November.
  24. John Whalley, 1984. "Trade Liberalization among Major World Trading Areas," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262231204, June.
  25. Mendoza, Enrique G, 1991. "Real Business Cycles in a Small Open Economy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(4), pages 797-818, September.
  26. Stulz, Rene M., 1988. "Capital mobility and the current account," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 7(2), pages 167-180, June.
  27. Brock, Philip L., 1988. "Investment, the current account, and the relative price of non-traded goods in a small open economy," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(3-4), pages 235-253, May.
  28. Cardia, Emanuela, 1991. "The dynamics of a small open economy in response to monetary, fiscal, and productivity shocks," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 411-434, December.
  29. Baldwin, Richard & Krugman, Paul, 1989. "Persistent Trade Effects of Large Exchange Rate Shocks," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 104(4), pages 635-54, November.
  30. Murphy, Robert G., 1986. "Productivity shocks, non-traded goods and optimal capital accumulation," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(5), pages 1081-1095, October.
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