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Price equalization does not imply free trade

  • Piyusha Mutreja
  • B. Ravikumar
  • Raymond Riezman
  • Michael J. Sposi

In this paper we show that price equalization alone is not sufficient to establish that there are no barriers to international trade. There are many barrier combinations that deliver price equalization, but each combination implies a different volume of trade. Therefore, in order to make statements about trade barriers it is necessary to know the trade flows. We demonstrate this first in a simple two-country model. We then extend the result to a multi-country model with two sectors. We show that for the case of capital goods trade, barriers have to be large in order to be consistent with the observed trade flows. Our model also implies that capital goods prices look similar across countries, an implication that is consistent with data. Zero barriers to trade in capital goods will deliver price equalization in capital goods, but cannot reproduce the observed trade flows in our model.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis in its series Working Papers with number 2012-010.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedlwp:2012-010
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  1. Chang-Tai Hsieh & Peter J. Klenow, 2003. "Relative prices and relative prosperity," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Nov.
  2. Mutreja, Piyusha & Ravikumar, B. & Riezman, Raymond & Sposi, Michael J., 2015. "Price Equalization Does Not Imply Free Trade," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, vol. 97(4), pages 323-39.
  3. Alan M. Taylor & Mark P. Taylor, 2004. "The Purchasing Power Parity Debate," NBER Working Papers 10607, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. James E. Anderson & Eric van Wincoop, 2000. "Gravity with Gravitas: A Solution to the Border Puzzle," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 485, Boston College Department of Economics.
  5. Robert E. Hall & Charles I. Jones, 1999. "Why do Some Countries Produce So Much More Output Per Worker than Others?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(1), pages 83-116.
  6. Armenter, Roc & Lahiri, Amartya, 2012. "Accounting for development through investment prices," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(6), pages 550-564.
  7. R. Dornbusch & S. Fischer & P. A. Samuelson, 1976. "Comparative Advantage, Trade and Payments in a Ricardian Model With a Continuum of Goods," Working papers 178, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  8. Douglas Gollin, 2002. "Getting Income Shares Right," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(2), pages 458-474, April.
  9. Mutreja, Piyusha & Ravikumar, B. & Riezman, Raymond & Sposi, Michael, 2014. "Price equalization, trade flows, and barriers to trade," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 70(C), pages 383-398.
  10. Robert E. Hall & Charles I. Jones, 1999. "Why Do Some Countries Produce So Much More Output per Worker than Others?," NBER Working Papers 6564, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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