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Product durability and trade volatility


  • Dimitra Petropoulou
  • Kwok Tong Soo


One of the main causes behind the trade collapse of 2008–09 was a significant fall in the demand for durable goods. This paper develops a small country, overlapping generations model of international trade in which goods durability gives rise to a more than proportional fall in trade volumes, as observed in 2008–09. The model has three goods—two durable, traded goods and one nondurable, nontraded good and two factors of production. The durability of goods affects consumers' lifetime wealth and their optimal consumption bundle across goods and time periods. A uniform productivity shock reduces consumers' lifetime wealth inducing a re-optimisation away from durables. This gives rise to a more than proportional effect on international trade, provided the nontraded sector is sufficiently capital intensive. The elasticity of trade flows to GDP is found to be increasing in both the degree of durability and the size of the shock.> ; Thus the model provides microfoundations for the asymmetric shock to the demand for durable goods observed in recessions and clarifies the link between this endogenous shift in preferences and international trade flows. It also explains the observation that deeper downturns are associated with a higher elasticity of trade to GDP. Furthermore, the greater the degree of durability of traded goods, the larger is the share of domestically produced goods in consumption, for plausible factor intensities. This provides an alternative explanation for the home bias in consumption, and hence another explanation for Trefler’s "missing trade."

Suggested Citation

  • Dimitra Petropoulou & Kwok Tong Soo, 2011. "Product durability and trade volatility," Globalization and Monetary Policy Institute Working Paper 94, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:feddgw:94

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Kristian Behrens & Gregory Corcos & Giordano Mion, 2013. "Trade Crisis? What Trade Crisis?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 95(2), pages 702-709, May.
    2. Olivier Cardi & Romain Restout, 2011. "Fiscal shocks in a two sector open economy," Working Papers hal-00567855, HAL.
    3. Erceg, Christopher J. & Guerrieri, Luca & Gust, Christopher, 2008. "Trade adjustment and the composition of trade," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 32(8), pages 2622-2650, August.
    4. Andrei A. Levchenko & Logan Lewis & Linda L. Tesar, 2009. "The Collapse of International Trade During the 2008-2009 Crisis: In Search of the Smoking Gun," Working Papers 592, Research Seminar in International Economics, University of Michigan.
    5. Chor, Davin & Manova, Kalina, 2012. "Off the cliff and back? Credit conditions and international trade during the global financial crisis," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(1), pages 117-133.
    6. Virgiliu Midrigan & Joseph Kaboski & George Alessandria, 2010. "The Great Trade Collapse of 2008-09: An Inventory Adjustment?," 2010 Meeting Papers 107, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    7. Jian Wang, 2010. "Durable goods and the collapse of global trade," Economic Letter, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, vol. 5(feb).
    8. Jonathan Eaton & Samuel Kortum & Brent Neiman & John Romalis, 2016. "Trade and the Global Recession," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 106(11), pages 3401-3438, November.
    9. Mary Amiti & David E. Weinstein, 2011. "Exports and Financial Shocks," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(4), pages 1841-1877.
    10. Rudolfs Bems & Robert C Johnson & Kei-Mu Yi, 2010. "Demand Spillovers and the Collapse of Trade in the Global Recession," IMF Economic Review, Palgrave Macmillan;International Monetary Fund, vol. 58(2), pages 295-326, December.
    11. Harry Flam, 1985. "A Heckscher-Ohlin Analysis of the Law of Declining International Trade," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 18(3), pages 602-615, August.
    12. George Alessandria & Joseph P. Kaboski & Virgiliu Midrigan, 2010. "The great trade collapse of 2008-2009: an inventory adjustment?," Working Papers 10-18, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
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    1. The recent collapse in the trade of durable goods
      by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2011-12-20 21:39:00


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    Cited by:

    1. Di Ubaldo, Mattia, 2016. "Firms and trade in downturns," Economics PhD Theses 0416, Department of Economics, University of Sussex.
    2. repec:fip:feddgm:00014 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Mattia Di Ubaldo, 2015. "Product Cost-Share: a Catalyst of the Trade Collapse," Working Paper Series 8015, Department of Economics, University of Sussex.

    More about this item


    International trade;

    JEL classification:

    • F11 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Neoclassical Models of Trade

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