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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. 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.
  2. George Alessandria & Joseph Kaboski & Virgiliu Midrigan, 2008. "Inventories, Lumpy Trade, and Large Devaluations," NBER Working Papers 13790, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Aubhik Khan & Julia K. Thomas, 2004. "Inventories and the business cycle: an equilibrium analysis of (S,s) policies," Working Papers 04-11, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  4. Backus, David K & Kehoe, Patrick J & Kydland, Finn E, 1992. "International Real Business Cycles," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(4), pages 745-75, August.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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).
  9. George Alessandria & Joseph Kaboski & Virgiliu Midrigan, 2012. "Trade Wedges, Inventories, and International Business Cycles," NBER Working Papers 18191, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. 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.
  11. George Alessandria & Joseph P. Kaboski & Virgiliu Midrigan, 2011. "U.S. trade and inventory dynamics," Working Papers 11-6, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  12. Jonathan Eaton & Sam Kortum & Brent Neiman & John Romalis, 2010. "Trade and the global recession," Working Paper Research 196, National Bank of Belgium.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. Engel, Charles & Wang, Jian, 2011. "International trade in durable goods: Understanding volatility, cyclicality, and elasticities," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(1), pages 37-52, January.
  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. David K. Backus & Patrick J. Kehoe & Finn E. Kydland, 1992. "Dynamics of the trade balance and the terms of trade: the S-curve," Working Paper 9211, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
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