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Adaptive Agent Modeling as a Tool for Trade and Development Theory


  • Timothy R. Gulden

    () (School of Public Policy University of Maryland)


This paper makes use of an adaptive agent framework to extend traditional models of comparative advantage in international trade, illustrating several cases which make theoretical room for industrial policy and the regulation of trade. Using an agent based implementation of the Hecksher-Ohlin trade model, the paper confirms Samuelson’s 2004 result demonstrating that the principle of comparative advantage does not ensure that technological progress in one country benefits its trading partners. It goes on to demonstrate that the presence of increasing returns leads to a situation with multiple equilibra, where free market trading policies can not be relied on to deliver an outcome which is efficient or equitable, with first movers in development enjoying permanent advantage over later developing nations. Finally, the paper examines the impact of relaxation of the Ricardian assumption of capital immobility on the principle of comparative advantage. It finds that the dynamics of factor trade are radically different from the dynamics of trade in goods and that factor mobility converts a regime of comparative advantage into a regime of absolute advantage, thus obviating the reassuring equity results which stem from comparative advantage.

Suggested Citation

  • Timothy R. Gulden, 2005. "Adaptive Agent Modeling as a Tool for Trade and Development Theory," Computing in Economics and Finance 2005 112, Society for Computational Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:sce:scecf5:112

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. A. Johansen & D. Sornette, 1998. "Stock market crashes are outliers," The European Physical Journal B: Condensed Matter and Complex Systems, Springer;EDP Sciences, vol. 1(2), pages 141-143, January.
    2. Johansen, Anders, 2003. "Characterization of large price variations in financial markets," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 324(1), pages 157-166.
    3. Anders Johansen & Didier Sornette, 2000. "The Nasdaq crash of April 2000: Yet another example of log-periodicity in a speculative bubble ending in a crash," Papers cond-mat/0004263,, revised May 2000.
    4. Sornette, Didier & Johansen, Anders, 1997. "Large financial crashes," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 245(3), pages 411-422.
    5. Johansen, Anders & Sornette, Didier, 2001. "Finite-time singularity in the dynamics of the world population, economic and financial indices," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 294(3), pages 465-502.
    6. Sornette, Didier & Johansen, Anders, 1998. "A hierarchical model of financial crashes," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 261(3), pages 581-598.
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    More about this item


    Agent-based modeling; comparative advantage; increasing returns; international trade;

    JEL classification:

    • O19 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - International Linkages to Development; Role of International Organizations

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