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Explaining the Border Effect: The Role of Exchange Rate Variability, Shipping Costs, and Geography

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  • David C. Parsley
  • Shang-Jin Wei

Abstract

This paper exploits a three-dimensional panel data set of prices on 27 traded goods, over 88 quarters, across 96 cities in the U.S. and Japan. We show that a simple average of good-level real exchange rates tracks the nominal exchange rate well, suggesting strong evidence of sticky prices. Focusing on dispersion in prices between city-pairs, we find that crossing the U.S.-Japan Border' is equivalent to adding as much as 43,000 trillion miles to the cross-country volatility of relative prices. We turn next to economic explanations for this so-called border effect and to its dynamics. Distance, unit-shipping costs, and exchange rate variability, collectively, explain a substantial portion of the observed international market segmentation. Relative wage variability, on the other hand, has little independent impact on segmentation.

Suggested Citation

  • David C. Parsley & Shang-Jin Wei, 2000. "Explaining the Border Effect: The Role of Exchange Rate Variability, Shipping Costs, and Geography," NBER Working Papers 7836, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7836
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Engel, Charles, 1993. "Real exchange rates and relative prices : An empirical investigation," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 35-50, August.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F30 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - General
    • F40 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - General

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