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Risk Diversification and International Trade

Listed author(s):
  • Federico Esposito

    (Yale University)

Firms face considerable uncertainty about consumers' demand. In presence of incomplete financial markets, entrepreneurs may not be able to insure against unexpected demand fluctuations. The key insight of my paper is that firms can hedge demand risk through geographical diversification. I first develop a general equilibrium trade model characterized by stochastic demand and risk-averse entrepreneurs, who exploit the imperfect correlation of demand across countries to lower the variance of their total sales. I show that: i) a firm's exporting decision does not obey a hierarchical structure as in standard models with fixed costs, because it depends on the global diversification strategy of the firm, and ii) the intensity of trade flows to a market are affected by its risk-return profile. To quantify the risk diversification benefits of international trade I calibrate the model with the Method of Moments, using Portuguese firm-level data. One of the counterfactual exercises reveals that the welfare gains from trade can be significantly higher than the gains predicted by models neglecting firm level risk. After a trade liberalization, risk-averse firms boost exports to countries offering better diversification benefits. Hence, in these markets competition among firms is stronger, lowering the price level more and raising welfare gains.

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File URL: https://economicdynamics.org/meetpapers/2016/paper_302.pdf
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Paper provided by Society for Economic Dynamics in its series 2016 Meeting Papers with number 302.

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Date of creation: 2016
Handle: RePEc:red:sed016:302
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Society for Economic Dynamics Marina Azzimonti Department of Economics Stonybrook University 10 Nicolls Road Stonybrook NY 11790 USA

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