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Are shocks to the terms of trade shocks to productivity?

  • Timothy J. Kehoe
  • Kim J. Ruhl

International trade is frequently thought of as a production technology in which the inputs are> exports and the outputs are imports. Exports are transformed into imports at the rate of the price> of exports relative to the price of imports: the reciprocal of the terms of trade. Cast this way, a> change in the terms of trade acts as a productivity shock. Or does it? In this paper, we show that> this line of reasoning cannot work in standard models. Starting with a simple model and then> generalizing, we show that changes in the terms of trade have no first-order effect on> productivity when output is measured as chain-weighted real GDP. The terms of trade do affect> real income and consumption in a country, and we show how measures of real income change> with the terms of trade at business cycle frequencies and during financial crises.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis in its series Staff Report with number 391.

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Date of creation: 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:fip:fedmsr:391
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  1. Robert C. Feenstra & Alan Heston & Marcel P. Timmer & Haiyan Deng, 2004. "Estimating Real Production and Expenditures Across Nations: A Proposal for Improving the Penn World Tables," NBER Working Papers 10866, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. William Easterly & Michael Kremer & Lant Pritchett & Lawrence H. Summers, 1993. "Good Policy or Good Luck? Country Growth Performance and Temporary Shocks," NBER Working Papers 4474, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Richard Blundell & Thomas MaCurdy, 1998. "Labour supply: a review of alternative approaches," IFS Working Papers W98/18, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  4. Felipe Meza & Erwan Quintin, 2005. "Financial crises and total factor productivity," Center for Latin America Working Papers 0105, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
  5. Richard Rogerson & Johanna Wallenius, 2007. "Micro and Macro Elasticities in a Life Cycle Model With Taxes," NBER Working Papers 13017, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Timothy J. Kehoe & Kim J. Ruhl, 2008. "Sudden stops, sectoral reallocations, and the real exchange rate," Staff Report 414, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  7. Kohli, Ulrich, 2004. "Real GDP, real domestic income, and terms-of-trade changes," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(1), pages 83-106, January.
  8. Enrique G. Mendoza, 2006. "Endogenous Sudden Stops in a Business Cycle Model with Collateral Constraints:A Fisherian Deflation of Tobin's Q," NBER Working Papers 12564, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Diewart, W Erwin & Morrison, Catherine J, 1986. "Adjusting Output and Productivity Indexes for Changes in the Terms of Trade," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 96(383), pages 659-79, September.
  10. Timothy J. Kehoe & Kim J. Ruhl, 2005. "Is Switzerland in a Great Depression?," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 8(3), pages 759-775, July.
  11. Paolo Mauro & Törbjörn I. Becker, 2006. "Output Drops and the Shocks That Matter," IMF Working Papers 06/172, International Monetary Fund.
  12. Hamilton, James D, 1983. "Oil and the Macroeconomy since World War II," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 91(2), pages 228-48, April.
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