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The Great Trade Collapse of 2008-09: An Inventory Adjustment?

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Listed:
  • George Alessandria
  • Joseph P. Kaboski
  • Virgiliu Midrigan

Abstract

This paper examines the role of inventories in the decline of production, trade, and expenditures in the US in the economic crisis of late 2008 and 2009. Empirically, we show that international trade declined more drastically than trade-weighted production or absorption and there was a sizeable inventory adjustment. This is most clearly evident for autos, the industry with the largest drop in trade. However, relative to the magnitude of the US downturn, these movements in trade are quite typical. We develop a two-country general equilibrium model with endogenous inventory holdings in response to frictions in domestic and foreign transactions costs. With more severe frictions on international transactions, in a downturn, the calibrated model shows a larger decline in output and an even larger decline in international trade, relative to a more standard model without inventories. The magnitudes of production, trade, and inventory responses are quantitatively similar to those observed in the current and previous US recessions.

Suggested Citation

  • George Alessandria & Joseph P. Kaboski & Virgiliu Midrigan, 2010. "The Great Trade Collapse of 2008-09: An Inventory Adjustment?," NBER Working Papers 16059, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16059
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. George Alessandria & Joseph P. Kaboski & Virgiliu Midrigan, 2010. "Inventories, Lumpy Trade, and Large Devaluations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(5), pages 2304-2339, December.
    2. 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.
    3. AndrewK. Rose & MarkM. Spiegel, 2010. "Cross-Country Causes And Consequences Of The 2008 Crisis: International Linkages And American Exposure," Pacific Economic Review, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 15(3), pages 340-363, August.
    4. George Alessandria & Horag Choi, 2007. "Do Sunk Costs of Exporting Matter for Net Export Dynamics?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(1), pages 289-336.
    5. Andrei A. Levchenko & Logan Lewis & Linda L. Tesar, 2009. "The Collapse of International Trade During the 2008-2009 Crisis: In Search of the Smoking Gun," Working Papers 592, Research Seminar in International Economics, University of Michigan.
    6. Boileau, Martin, 1999. "Trade in capital goods and the volatility of net exports and the terms of trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(2), pages 347-365, August.
    7. Aubhik Khan & Julia K. Thomas, 2007. "Inventories and the Business Cycle: An Equilibrium Analysis of ( S , s ) Policies," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(4), pages 1165-1188, September.
    8. Christiano, Lawrence J., 1988. "Why does inventory investment fluctuate so much?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(2-3), pages 247-280.
    9. David Backus & Patrick Kehoe & Finn Kydland, 1992. "Dynamics of the trade balance and the terms of trade: the J-curve revisited," Discussion Paper / Institute for Empirical Macroeconomics 65, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
    10. Engel, Charles & Wang, Jian, 2007. "International trade in durable goods: understanding volatility, cyclicality, and elastics," Globalization and Monetary Policy Institute Working Paper 03, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F1 - International Economics - - Trade
    • F11 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Neoclassical Models of Trade
    • F4 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance

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