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A Simple Theory of Trade, Finance and Firm Dynamics


  • Felbermayr, Gabriel
  • Spiegel, Gilbert


A stylized monopolistic competition model of international trade is proposed where firms differ with respect to the expected economic lifetime of their innovations. Upon entry, they receive a commonly observed signal which is updated over time. Jointly with partial irreversibility of investment, this generates heterogeneity in effective discount rates and, thus, in the cost of finance. In line with evidence, the model predicts a negative correlation between firms’ financing costs and their age. Over a firm’s life cycle, per period net profits and the export participation probability grow. Exporters are less likely to exit than purely domestic firms. Belief updating entails excessive financing of incumbents relative to entrants and too much exporting. Asymptotically, trade liberalization reduces overall general equilibrium exit rates, but it does not necessarily increase welfare. With multiple asymmetric export markets, firms gradually expand their market coverage and total sales. A confidence crisis modeled by belief reversion causes an over-proportional decrease in exports, thereby offering a novel interpretation of the trade slump in 2008/09.

Suggested Citation

  • Felbermayr, Gabriel & Spiegel, Gilbert, 2013. "A Simple Theory of Trade, Finance and Firm Dynamics," Munich Reprints in Economics 20353, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:lmu:muenar:20353

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Irlacher, Michael & Unger, Florian, 2018. "Capital market imperfections and trade liberalization in general equilibrium," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 145(C), pages 402-423.
    2. Ina Jäkel, 2014. "Import-push or export-pull? An industry-level analysis of the impact of trade on firm exit," Empirica, Springer;Austrian Institute for Economic Research;Austrian Economic Association, vol. 41(4), pages 747-775, November.
    3. Benedikt Heid, 2014. "Essays on International Trade and Development," ifo Beiträge zur Wirtschaftsforschung, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, number 55, November.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F12 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Models of Trade with Imperfect Competition and Scale Economies; Fragmentation
    • F36 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Financial Aspects of Economic Integration


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