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International Trade and Business Cycles


  • Marianne Baxter


Virtually all economies experience recurrent fluctuations in economic activity that persist for periods of several quarters to several years. Further, there is a definite tendency for the business cycles of developed countries to move together--there is a world component to business cycles. This paper argues that capital accumulation and international capital flows are central to understanding world trade and business cycles. In particular, fluctuations in net exports and the current account are shown to be dominated by trade in capital goods. The paper develops a two country model of international trade within which capital accumulation and international investment flows play a central role. We explore the channels by which technology shocks and fiscal shocks are transmitted to the domestic and foreign economies, and discuss the extent to which these results are sensitive to individuals' opportunities for international trade in financial assets. Overall, we find that the models capture many of the salient features of international business cycles. However, it has proven consistently difficult to generate sufficient comovement across countries in labor input and investment. The paper concludes with a discussion of fruitful directions for future research.

Suggested Citation

  • Marianne Baxter, 1995. "International Trade and Business Cycles," NBER Working Papers 5025, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5025
    Note: IFM EFG

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ahmed, Shaghil, 1987. "Government spending, the balance of trade and the terms of trade in British history," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 195-220, September.
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    JEL classification:

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


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