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Unbalanced Trade

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  • Robert Dekle
  • Jonathan Eaton
  • Samuel Kortum

Abstract

We incorporate trade imbalances into a quantitative model of bilateral trade in manufactures, dividing the world into forty countries. Fitting the model to 2004 data on GDP and bilateral trade we calculate how relative wages, real wages, and welfare would differ in a counterfactual world with all current accounts balancing. Our results indicate that closing the current accounts requires modest changes in relative wages. The country with the largest deficit (the United States) needs its wage to fall by around 10 percent relative to the country with the largest surplus (Japan). But the prevalence of nontraded goods means that the real wage in Japan barely rises while the U.S. real wage falls by less than 1 percent. The geographic barriers implied by the current pattern of trade are sufficiently asymmetric that large bilateral deficits remain even after current accounts balance. The U.S. manufacturing trade deficit with China falls to $65 billion from its 2004 level of $167 billion.

Suggested Citation

  • Robert Dekle & Jonathan Eaton & Samuel Kortum, 2007. "Unbalanced Trade," NBER Working Papers 13035, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13035
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Andrew B. Bernard & Jonathan Eaton & J. Bradford Jensen & Samuel Kortum, 2003. "Plants and Productivity in International Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(4), pages 1268-1290, September.
    2. James E. Anderson & Eric van Wincoop, 2003. "Gravity with Gravitas: A Solution to the Border Puzzle," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 170-192, March.
    3. Maurice Obstfeld & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 2005. "Global Current Account Imbalances and Exchange Rate Adjustments," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 36(1), pages 67-146.
    4. Redding, Stephen & Venables, Anthony J., 2004. "Economic geography and international inequality," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(1), pages 53-82, January.
    5. Michael E. Waugh, 2010. "International Trade and Income Differences," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(5), pages 2093-2124, December.
    6. Alvarez, Fernando & Lucas, Robert Jr., 2007. "General equilibrium analysis of the Eaton-Kortum model of international trade," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(6), pages 1726-1768, September.
    7. Dimitri B. Papadimitriou & Gennaro Zezza & Greg Hannsgen, 2006. "Can Global Imbalances Continue?: Policies for the U.S. Economy," Economics Strategic Analysis Archive sa_nov_06, Levy Economics Institute.
    8. Jonathan Eaton & Samuel Kortum, 2002. "Technology, Geography, and Trade," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(5), pages 1741-1779, September.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F17 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade Forecasting and Simulation
    • F32 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Current Account Adjustment; Short-term Capital Movements
    • F41 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - Open Economy Macroeconomics

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