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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."

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas in its series Globalization and Monetary Policy Institute Working Paper with number 94.

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Date of creation: 2011
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Handle: RePEc:fip:feddgw:94
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  1. Christopher Erceg & Christopher Gust & Luca Guerrieri, 2005. "Trade adjustment and the composition of trade," Proceedings, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  2. Kristian Behrens & Gregory Corcos & Giordano Mion, 2010. "Trade Crisis? What Trade Crisis?," CEP Discussion Papers dp0995, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  3. 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 602-15, August.
  4. Andrei A. Levchenko & Logan T. Lewis & Linda L. Tesar, 2010. "The Collapse of International Trade During the 2008-2009 Crisis: In Search of the Smoking Gun," NBER Working Papers 16006, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Davin Chor & Kalina Manova, 2010. "Off the Cliff and Back? Credit Conditions and International Trade during the Global Financial Crisis," NBER Working Papers 16174, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Amiti, Mary & Weinstein, David E., 2009. "Exports and Financial Shocks," CEPR Discussion Papers 7590, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Samuel S. Kortum & Jonathan Eaton & Brent Neiman & John Romalis, 2010. "Trade and the Global Recession," DEGIT Conference Papers c015_002, DEGIT, Dynamics, Economic Growth, and International Trade.
  8. Olivier Cardi & Romain Restout, 2011. "Fiscal Shocks in a Two Sector Open Economy," TEPP Working Paper 2011-07, TEPP.
  9. Jian Wang, 2010. "Durable goods and the collapse of global trade," Economic Letter, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, vol. 5(feb).
  10. 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.
  11. Kei-Mu Yi & Rudolfs Bems & Robert C. Johnson, 2010. "Demand Spillovers and the Collapse of Trade in the Global Recession," IMF Working Papers 10/142, International Monetary Fund.
  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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