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Trade Wedges, Inventories, and International Business Cycles

  • George Alessandria
  • Joseph Kaboski
  • Virgiliu Midrigan

The large, persistent fluctuations in international trade that can not 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 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 18191.

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Date of creation: Jun 2012
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Publication status: published as 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.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18191
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  1. George Alessandria & Horag Choi, 2007. "Do Sunk Costs of Exporting Matter for Net Export Dynamics?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 122(1), pages 289-336, 02.
  2. Stockman, Alan C & Tesar, Linda L, 1995. "Tastes and Technology in a Two-Country Model of the Business Cycle: Explaining International Comovements," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(1), pages 168-85, March.
  3. V. V Chari & Patrick J. Kehoe & Ellen R. McGrattan, 2002. "Can Sticky Price Models Generate Volatile and Persistent Real Exchange Rates?," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 69(3), pages 533-563.
  4. Aubhik Khan & Julia Thomas, 2003. "Inventories and the Business Cycle: An Equilibrium Analysis of (S,s) Policies," NBER Working Papers 10078, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Jian Wang & Charles Engel, 2008. "International Trade in Durable Goods: Understanding Volatility, Cyclicality, and Elasticities," 2008 Meeting Papers 210, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  6. Andrei A. Levchenko & Logan T. Lewis & Linda L. Tesar, 2010. "The Collapse of International Trade During the 2008-2009 Crisis: In Search of the Smoking Gun," NBER Working Papers 16006, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. George Alessandria & Joseph Kaboski & Virgiliu Midrigan, 2012. "Trade wedges, inventories, and international business cycles," Working Papers 12-16, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  8. Ghironi, Fabio & Melitz, Marc J, 2004. "International Trade and Macroeconomic Dynamics with Heteroegenous Firms," CEPR Discussion Papers 4595, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  9. Jonathan Eaton & Samuel Kortum & Brent Neiman & John Romalis, 2011. "Trade and the Global Recession," NBER Working Papers 16666, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. Kollintzas, Tryphon E. & Husted, Steven L., 1984. "Distributed lags and intermediate good imports," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 303-327, December.
  14. David K. Backus & Patrick J. Kehoe & Finn E. Kydland, 1987. "International real business cycles," Working Papers 426, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  15. Baxter, M. & Crucini, M., 1991. "Business Cycles and the Asset Structure of Foreign Trade," RCER Working Papers 316, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
  16. 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.
  17. Raffo, Andrea, 2008. "Net exports, consumption volatility and international business cycle models," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 75(1), pages 14-29, May.
  18. 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.
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