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

International trade in durable goods: understanding volatility, cyclicality, and elastics

  • Engel, Charles
  • Wang, Jian

Data for OECD countries document: 1. imports and exports are about three times as volatile as GDP; 2. imports and exports are pro-cyclical, and positively correlated with each other; 3. net exports are counter-cyclical. Standard models fail to replicate the behavior of imports and exports, though they can match net exports relatively well. Inspired by the fact that a large fraction of international trade is in durable goods, we propose a two-country two-sector model, in which durable goods are traded across countries.> ; Our model can match the business cycle statistics on the volatility and comovement of the imports and exports relatively well. In addition, the model with trade in durables helps to understand the empirical regularity noted in the trade literature: home and foreign goods are highly substitutable in the long run, but the short-run elasticity of substitution is low. We note that durable consumption also has implications for the appropriate measures of consumption and prices to assess risk-sharing opportunities, as in the empirical work on the Backus-Smith puzzle. The fact that our model can match data better in multiple dimensions suggests that trade in durable goods may be an important element in open-economy macro models.

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: no

Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas in its series Globalization and Monetary Policy Institute Working Paper with number 03.

in new window

Length: 57 pages
Date of creation: 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:fip:feddgw:03
Note: Published as: Engel, Charles and Jian Wang (2010), "International Trade in Durable Goods: Understanding Volatility, Cyclicality, and Elasticities," Journal of International Economics 83 (1): 37-52.
Contact details of provider: Web page:

More information through EDIRC

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. Stephanie Schmitt-Grohe & Martin Uribe, 2002. "Closing Small Open Economy Models," NBER Working Papers 9270, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Marianne Baxter & Mario J. Crucini, 1994. "Business Cycles and the Asset Structure of Foreign Trade," NBER Working Papers 4975, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Harold L. Cole & Maurice Obstfeld, 1989. "Commodity Trade and International Risk Sharing: How Much Do Financial Markets Matter?," NBER Working Papers 3027, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Ghironi, Fabio & Melitz, Marc, 2007. "Trade Flow Dynamics with Heterogeneous Firms," Scholarly Articles 3229097, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  5. Baxter, M., 1994. "International Trade and Business Cycles," RCER Working Papers 390, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
  6. Baxter, M. & Stockman, A.C., 1988. "Business Cycles And The Exchange Rate System: Some International Evidence," RCER Working Papers 140, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
  7. Gianluca Benigno & Christoph Theonissen, 2006. "Consumption and real exchange rates with incomplete markets and non-traded goods," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 3758, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  8. Keith Head & John Ries, 2001. "Increasing Returns versus National Product Differentiation as an Explanation for the Pattern of U.S.-Canada Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(4), pages 858-876, September.
  9. Christopher J. Erceg & Christopher J. Gust & Luca Guerrieri, 2005. "Trade adjustment and the composition of trade," Proceedings, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  10. Baxter, Marianne, 1996. "Are Consumer Durables Important for Business Cycles?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 78(1), pages 147-55, February.
  11. Karl Whelan, 2003. "A two-sector approach to modeling U.S. NIPA data," Open Access publications 10197/203, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
  12. Jonathan Eaton & Samuel Kortum, 2000. "Trade in Capital Goods," Boston University - Department of Economics - The Institute for Economic Development Working Papers Series dp-109, Boston University - Department of Economics.
  13. Maurice Obstfeld and Kenneth Rogoff., 2000. "The Six Major Puzzles in International Macroeconomics: Is There a Common Cause?," Center for International and Development Economics Research (CIDER) Working Papers C00-112, University of California at Berkeley.
  14. Huiwen Lai & Daniel Trefler, 2002. "The Gains from Trade with Monopolistic Competition: Specification, Estimation, and Mis-Specification," NBER Working Papers 9169, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Giuseppe Bertola & Luigi Guiso & Luigi Pistaferri, 2005. "Uncertainty and Consumer Durables Adjustment," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 72(4), pages 973-1007.
  16. Startz, Richard, 1989. "The Stochastic Behavior of Durable and Nondurable Consumption," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 71(2), pages 356-63, May.
  17. Lewis, Karen K, 1996. "What Can Explain the Apparent Lack of International Consumption Risk Sharing?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(2), pages 267-97, April.
  18. Robert C. Feenstra & James A. Levinsohn, 1995. "Estimating Markups and Market Conduct with Multidimensional Product Attributes," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 62(1), pages 19-52.
  19. Giancarlo Corsetti & Luca Dedola & Sylvain Leduc, 2008. "International Risk Sharing and the Transmission of Productivity Shocks," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 75(2), pages 443-473.
  20. V. V Chari & Patrick J. Kehoe & Ellen R. McGrattan, 2002. "Can Sticky Price Models Generate Volatile and Persistent Real Exchange Rates?," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 69(3), pages 533-563.
  21. Kei-Mu Yi & Ayhan Kose, 2005. "Can the Standard International Business Cycle Model Explain the Relation Between Trade and Comovement?," IMF Working Papers 05/204, International Monetary Fund.
  22. Robert Kollmann, 2004. "Welfare Effects of a Monetary Union: The Role of Trade Openness," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 2(2-3), pages 289-301, 04/05.
  23. Reinert, Kenneth A. & Roland-Holst, David W., 1992. "Armington elasticities for United States manufacturing sectors," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 14(5), pages 631-639, October.
  24. Gali, J., 1992. "Variability of Durable and Nondurable Consumption: Evidence for Six O.E.C.D. Countries," Papers 92-06, Columbia - Graduate School of Business.
  25. Wang, Jian, 2010. "Home bias, exchange rate disconnect, and optimal exchange rate policy," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 55-78, February.
  26. Bergin, Paul R., 2006. "How well can the New Open Economy Macroeconomics explain the exchange rate and current account?," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 25(5), pages 675-701, August.
  27. Andrew M. Warner, 1992. "Does world investment demand determine U.S. exports?," International Finance Discussion Papers 423, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  28. Kei-Mu Yi, 2003. "Can Vertical Specialization Explain the Growth of World Trade?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 111(1), pages 52-102, February.
  29. Baxter, Marianne & Stockman, Alan C., 1989. "Business cycles and the exchange-rate regime : Some international evidence," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(3), pages 377-400, May.
  30. Lukasz A. Drozd & Jaromir B. Nosal, 2008. "Understanding international prices: customers as capital," Staff Report 411, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  31. Franck Portier & Paul Beaudry, 2004. "When Can Changes in Expectations Cause Business Cycle Fluctuations?," 2004 Meeting Papers 865, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  32. Boileau, Martin, 1999. "Trade in capital goods and the volatility of net exports and the terms of trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(2), pages 347-365, August.
  33. David Backus & Patrick J. Kehoe & Finn E. Kydland, 1993. "International Business Cycles: Theory and Evidence," NBER Working Papers 4493, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  34. Christian Zimmermann, 1994. "International Business Cycles and Exchange Rates," Cahiers de recherche CREFE / CREFE Working Papers 33, CREFE, Université du Québec à Montréal, revised Jul 1997.
  35. Heathcote, Jonathan & Perri, Fabrizio, 1999. "Financial Autarky and International Business Cycles," SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 320, Stockholm School of Economics, revised 30 Apr 2000.
  36. Bruce A. Blonigen & Wesley W. Wilson, 1999. "Explaining Armington: What Determines Substitutability Between Home and Foreign Goods?," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 32(1), pages 1-21, February.
  37. Backus, David K & Kehoe, Patrick J & Kydland, Finn E, 1992. "International Real Business Cycles," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(4), pages 745-75, August.
  38. Maurice Obstfeld & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 1996. "Foundations of International Macroeconomics," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262150476, March.
  39. David Backus & Patrick J. Kehoe & Finn E. Kydland, 1992. "Dynamics of the Trade Balance and the Terms of Trade: The S-Curve," NBER Working Papers 4242, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  40. Greenwood, Jeremy & Hercowitz, Zvi & Huffman, Gregory W, 1988. "Investment, Capacity Utilization, and the Real Business Cycle," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(3), pages 402-17, June.
  41. Mankiw, N. Gregory, 1982. "Hall's consumption hypothesis and durable goods," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(3), pages 417-425.
  42. Erceg, Christopher & Levin, Andrew, 2006. "Optimal monetary policy with durable consumption goods," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(7), pages 1341-1359, October.
  43. Baxter, Marianne, 1995. "International trade and business cycles," Handbook of International Economics, in: G. M. Grossman & K. Rogoff (ed.), Handbook of International Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 35, pages 1801-1864 Elsevier.
  44. Clinton R. Shiells & Kenneth A. Reinert, 1993. "Armington Models and Terms-of-Trade Effects: Some Econometric Evidence for North America," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 26(2), pages 299-316, 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:fip:feddgw:03. 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: (Amy Chapman)

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.