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Exports versus multinational production under nominal uncertainty

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  • Logan T. Lewis

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Logan T. Lewis, 2011. "Exports versus multinational production under nominal uncertainty," International Finance Discussion Papers 1038, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgif:1038
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. de Sousa, José & Disdier, Anne-Célia & Gaigné, Carl, 2015. "Export decision under risk," 2015 AAEA & WAEA Joint Annual Meeting, July 26-28, San Francisco, California 205584, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association;Western Agricultural Economics Association.
    2. Naknoi, Kanda, 2015. "Exchange rate volatility and fluctuations in the extensive margin of trade," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 322-339.
    3. Cooke, Dudley, 2014. "Monetary shocks, exchange rates, and the extensive margin of exports," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 128-145.
    4. Zlate, Andrei, 2016. "Offshore production and business cycle dynamics with heterogeneous firms," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 100(C), pages 34-49.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F12 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Models of Trade with Imperfect Competition and Scale Economies; Fragmentation
    • F23 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - Multinational Firms; International Business
    • F41 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - Open Economy Macroeconomics

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