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Inattentive Importers

  • Kunal Dasgupta
  • Jordi Mondria

Importers rarely observe the price of every good in every market because of information frictions. In this paper, we seek to explain how the presence of such frictions shape the flow of goods between countries. To this end, we introduce rationally inattentive importers in a multi-country Ricardian trade model. Under specific assumptions about preferences and technology, we provide an information-theoretical foundation of the gravity equation that links bilateral trade flows with the cost of processing information faced by importers. A distinguishable feature of our model is that importers buy the same good from several countries. In a more general setting, we analyze how small reductions in observable trade costs may have large effects on trade flows as importers endogenously process different amounts of information across countries. We also show that, unlike traditional trade costs, information costs have non-monotonic implications for bilateral trade flows. Finally, we contribute to the rational inattention literature by providing a closed-form solution to a discrete choice problem with asymmetric prior beliefs.

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Paper provided by University of Toronto, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number tecipa-512.

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Length: Unknown pages
Date of creation: 30 May 2014
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Handle: RePEc:tor:tecipa:tecipa-512
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  1. Keith Head & John Ries, 1998. "Immigration and Trade Creation: Econometric Evidence from Canada," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 31(1), pages 47-62, February.
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  9. James E. Anderson & Eric van Wincoop, 2003. "Gravity with Gravitas: A Solution to the Border Puzzle," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 170-192, March.
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  14. Jonathan Eaton & Samuel Kortum, 2002. "Technology, Geography, and Trade," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(5), pages 1741-1779, September.
  15. Mondria, Jordi, 2010. "Portfolio choice, attention allocation, and price comovement," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 145(5), pages 1837-1864, September.
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  19. Stijn Van Nieuwerburgh & Laura Veldkamp, 2010. "Information Acquisition and Under-Diversification," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 77(2), pages 779-805.
  20. Cardell, N. Scott, 1997. "Variance Components Structures for the Extreme-Value and Logistic Distributions with Application to Models of Heterogeneity," Econometric Theory, Cambridge University Press, vol. 13(02), pages 185-213, April.
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  23. Elhanan Helpman & Marc Melitz & Yona Rubinstein, 2007. "Estimating Trade Flows: Trading Partners and Trading Volumes," NBER Working Papers 12927, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  26. Sims, Christopher A., 2003. "Implications of rational inattention," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(3), pages 665-690, April.
  27. Anne-Célia Disdier & Keith Head, 2004. "The Puzzling Persistence of the Distance Effect on Bilateral Trade," Development Working Papers 186, Centro Studi Luca d\'Agliano, University of Milano.
  28. Morales, Eduardo & Sheu, Gloria & Zahler, Andrés, 2011. "Gravity and extended gravity: estimating a structural model of export entry," MPRA Paper 30311, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  29. David Hummels, 2007. "Transportation Costs and International Trade in the Second Era of Globalization," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(3), pages 131-154, Summer.
  30. McFadden, Daniel, 1989. "A Method of Simulated Moments for Estimation of Discrete Response Models without Numerical Integration," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(5), pages 995-1026, September.
  31. Lin Peng & Wei Xiong, 2005. "Investor Attention: Overconfidence and Category Learning," NBER Working Papers 11400, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  32. Jon Haveman & David Hummels, 2004. "Alternative hypotheses and the volume of trade: the gravity equation and the extent of specialization," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 37(1), pages 199-218, February.
  33. Thomas Chaney, 2008. "Distorted Gravity: The Intensive and Extensive Margins of International Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(4), pages 1707-21, September.
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