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Trade wedges, inventories, and international business cycles

  • George Alessandria
  • Joseph P. Kaboski
  • Virgiliu Midrigan

The large, persistent fluctuations in international trade that cannot be explained in standard models by changes in expenditures and relative prices are often attributed to trade wedges. We show that these trade wedges can reflect the decisions of importers to change their inventory holdings. We find that a two-country model of international business cycles with an inventory management decision can generate trade flows and wedges consistent with the data. Moreover, matching trade flows alters the international transmission of business cycles. Specifically, real net exports become countercyclical and consumption is less correlated across countries than in standard models. We also show that ignoring inventories as a source of trade wedges substantially overstates the role of trade wedges in business cycle fluctuations.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia in its series Working Papers with number 12-16.

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Date of creation: 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:fip:fedpwp:12-16
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  1. V. V. Chari & Patrick J. Kehoe & Ellen R. McGrattan, 2002. "Can sticky price models generate volatile and persistent real exchange rates?," Staff Report 277, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  2. Fabio Ghironi & Marc J. Melitz, 2005. "International Trade and Macroeconomic Dynamics with Heterogeneous Firms," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 120(3), pages 865-915, August.
  3. 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.
  4. Alessandria, George & Kaboski, Joseph & Midrigan, Virgiliu, 2013. "Trade wedges, inventories, and international business cycles," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(1), pages 1-20.
  5. Backus, David K & Kehoe, Patrick J & Kydland, Finn E, 1994. "Dynamics of the Trade Balance and the Terms of Trade: The J-Curve?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(1), pages 84-103, March.
  6. Charles Engel & Jian Wang, 2008. "International Trade in Durable Goods: Understanding Volatility, Cyclicality, and Elasticities," NBER Working Papers 13814, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Tryphon E. Kollintzas & Steven L Husted, 1983. "Distributed Lags and Intermediate Good Imports," Discussion Papers 552, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  8. Raffo, Andrea, 2008. "Net exports, consumption volatility and international business cycle models," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 75(1), pages 14-29, May.
  9. Aubhik Khan & Julia K. Thomas, 2002. "Inventories and the business cycle: an equilibrium analysis of (S,s) policies," Working Papers 02-20, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  10. George Alessandria & Joseph P. Kaboski & Virgiliu Midrigan, 2011. "US Trade and Inventory Dynamics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(3), pages 303-07, May.
  11. Marianne Baxter & Mario J. Crucini, 1992. "Business cycles and the asset structure of foreign trade," Discussion Paper / Institute for Empirical Macroeconomics 59, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  12. repec:oup:qjecon:v:122:y:2007:i:1:p:289-336 is not listed on IDEAS
  13. David K. Backus & Patrick J. Kehoe & Finn E. Kydland, 1991. "International real business cycles," Staff Report 146, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  14. George Alessandria & Joseph P. Kaboski & Virgiliu Midrigan, 2010. "Inventories, Lumpy Trade, and Large Devaluations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(5), pages 2304-39, December.
  15. Logan Lewis & Linda Tesar & Andrei Levchenko, 2010. "The Collapse of International Trade During the 2008-2009 Crisis: In Search of the Smoking Gun," 2010 Meeting Papers 109, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  16. repec:oup:qjecon:v:120:y:2005:i:3:p:865-915 is not listed on IDEAS
  17. Alan C. Stockman & Linda L. Tesar, 1990. "Tastes and Technology in a Two-Country Model of the Business Cycle: Explaining International Comovements," NBER Working Papers 3566, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Jonathan Eaton & Samuel Kortum & Brent Neiman & John Romalis, 2011. "Trade and the Global Recession," NBER Working Papers 16666, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. George Alessandria & Horag Choi, 2005. "Do sunk costs of exporting matter for net export dynamics?," Working Papers 05-20, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  20. Khan, Aubhik & Thomas, Julia K., 2007. "EXPLAINING INVENTORIES: A BUSINESS CYCLE ASSESSMENT OF THE STOCKOUT AVOIDANCE AND (S,s) MOTIVES," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 11(05), pages 638-664, November.
  21. repec:oup:restud:v:69:y:2002:i:3:p:533-63 is not listed on IDEAS
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