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Exports versus multinational production under nominal uncertainty

  • Logan T. Lewis

This paper examines how nominal uncertainty affects the choice firms face to serve a foreign market through exports or to produce abroad as a multinational. I develop a two-country, stochastic general equilibrium model in which firms make production and pricing decisions in advance, and I consider its implications on this relative choice. For foreign firms, both exports and multinational production are priced in the destination currency, and this uncertainty has no effect on the relative decision. In the data, U.S. firms set nearly all of their export prices in dollars. Therefore, home firms price exports in their own currency in the model. Home exporters gain an advantage over home multinationals: during a foreign contraction, the foreign exchange rate appreciates, causing exported goods from the home country to be relatively cheaper. This pricing advantage affects exporters non-linearly through demand, which translates to convex profits. As foreign volatility rises, the model implies that the home country should serve the foreign country relatively more through exports. I take this implication to bilateral U.S. data, using inflation volatility as a proxy for nominal volatility. Using sectoral data on sales by majority-owned foreign affiliates matched with U.S. exports, I find that higher inflation volatility is associated with a significantly lower ratio of multinational production to total foreign sales.

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Paper provided by Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.) in its series International Finance Discussion Papers with number 1038.

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Date of creation: 2011
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgif:1038
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  1. Goldberg, Linda S & Kolstad, Charles D, 1995. "Foreign Direct Investment, Exchange Rate Variability and Demand Uncertainty," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 36(4), pages 855-73, November.
  2. Ramondo, Natalia & Rappoport, Veronica, 2010. "The role of multinational production in a risky environment," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 81(2), pages 240-252, July.
  3. Cavallari Lilia, 2007. "A Macroeconomic Model of Entry with Exporters and Multinationals," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 7(1), pages 1-32, September.
  4. José L. Fillat & Stefania Garetto, 2010. "Risk, returns, and multinational production," Risk and Policy Analysis Unit Working Paper QAU10-5, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
  5. Aaron Brown, 2011. "Exorbitant Privilege: The Rise and Fall of the Dollar and the Future of the International Monetary System, by Barry Eichengreen," Quantitative Finance, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 11(6), pages 825-826.
  6. Chari, V V & Kehoe, Patrick J & McGrattan, Ellen R, 2002. "Can Sticky Price Models Generate Volatile and Persistent Real Exchange Rates?," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 69(3), pages 533-63, July.
  7. Russ, Katheryn Niles, 2007. "The endogeneity of the exchange rate as a determinant of FDI: A model of entry and multinational firms," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 344-372, April.
  8. Raphael Schoenle, 2010. "International Menu Costs and Price Dynamics," Working Papers 79, Brandeis University, Department of Economics and International Businesss School.
  9. Gita Gopinath & Oleg Itskhoki & Roberto Rigobon, 2007. "Currency Choice and Exchange Rate Pass-through," NBER Working Papers 13432, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Anthony Landry, 2009. "State-dependent pricing, local-currency pricing, and exchange rate pass-through," Globalization and Monetary Policy Institute Working Paper 39, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
  11. Natalia Ramondo & Veronica Rappoport & Kim J. Ruhl, 2013. "The Proximity-Concentration Tradeoff under Uncertainty," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 80(4), pages 1582-1621.
  12. Alfonso A. Irarrazabal & Luca David Opromolla, 2008. "A Theory of Entry and Exit into Exports Markets," Working Papers w200820, Banco de Portugal, Economics and Research Department.
  13. Kim J. Ruhl, 2008. "The International Elasticity Puzzle," Working Papers 08-30, New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, Department of Economics.
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