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Trade and Uncertainty

Author

Listed:
  • Dennis Novy
  • Alan M. Taylor

Abstract

We offer a new explanation as to why international trade is so volatile in response to economic shocks. Our approach combines the uncertainty shock idea of Bloom (2009) with a model of international trade, extending the idea to the open economy. Firms import intermediate inputs from home or foreign suppliers, but with higher costs in the latter case. Due to fixed costs of ordering firms hold an inventory of intermediates. We show that in response to an uncertainty shock firms optimally adjust their inventory policy by cutting their orders of foreign intermediates disproportionately strongly. In the aggregate, this response leads to a bigger contraction in international trade flows than in domestic economic activity. We confront the model with newly-compiled monthly aggregate U.S. import data and industrial production data going back to 1962, and also with disaggregated data back to 1989. Our results suggest a tight link between uncertainty and the cyclical behavior of international trade.

Suggested Citation

  • Dennis Novy & Alan M. Taylor, 2014. "Trade and Uncertainty," NBER Working Papers 19941, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19941 Note: EFG IFM ITI
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Michaels, Guy & Rauch, Ferdinand, 2013. "Resetting the Urban Network: 117-2012," CEPR Discussion Papers 9760, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Daniel Paravisini & Veronica Rappoport & Philipp Schnabl & Daniel Wolfenzon, 2015. "Dissecting the Effect of Credit Supply on Trade: Evidence from Matched Credit-Export Data," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 82(1), pages 333-359.
    3. Virgiliu Midrigan & Joseph Kaboski & George Alessandria, 2010. "The Great Trade Collapse of 2008-09: An Inventory Adjustment?," 2010 Meeting Papers 107, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    4. Jonathan Eaton & Samuel Kortum & Brent Neiman & John Romalis, 2016. "Trade and the Global Recession," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, pages 3401-3438.
    5. Robert McDonald & Daniel Siegel, 1986. "The Value of Waiting to Invest," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 101(4), pages 707-727.
    6. 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.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Tamon Asonuma & Marcos Chamon & Akira Sasahara, 2016. "Trade Costs of Sovereign Debt Restructurings; Does a Market-Friendly Approach Improve the Outcome?," IMF Working Papers 16/222, International Monetary Fund.
    2. repec:spr:weltar:v:153:y:2017:i:4:d:10.1007_s10290-017-0286-0 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Gozgor, Giray, 2014. "Aggregated and disaggregated import demand in China: An empirical study," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 1-8.
    4. repec:eee:jmacro:v:53:y:2017:i:c:p:127-144 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. N. Bloom., 2016. "Fluctuations in uncertainty," VOPROSY ECONOMIKI, N.P. Redaktsiya zhurnala "Voprosy Economiki", vol. 4.
    6. Federico Esposito, 2016. "Risk Diversification and International Trade," 2016 Meeting Papers 302, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    7. Qu, Zhan & Raff, Horst, 2017. "Centralized versus decentralized inventory control in supply chains and the bullwhip effect," CEPIE Working Papers 17/17, Technische Universität Dresden, Center of Public and International Economics (CEPIE).
    8. Daniela MAGGIONI & Alessia LO TURCO & Mauro GALLEGATI, 2014. "Does export complexity matter for firms' output volatility?," Working Papers 407, Universita' Politecnica delle Marche (I), Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche e Sociali.
    9. Gábor Békés & Lionel Fontagné & Balázs Muraközy & Vincent Vicard, 2017. "Shipment frequency of exporters and demand uncertainty," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer;Institut für Weltwirtschaft (Kiel Institute for the World Economy), pages 779-807.
    10. Alessandria, George & Choi, Horag & Kaboski, Joseph P. & Midrigan, Virgiliu, 2015. "Microeconomic uncertainty, international trade, and aggregate fluctuations," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, pages 20-38.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E3 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles
    • F10 - International Economics - - Trade - - - General

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