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Terms-of-trade shocks and optimal investment : another look at the Laursen-Metzler effect

  • Serven, Luis

Conventional analyses of the effect of terms-of-trade shocks provide a misleading view of their impact on investment and the current account, because capital goods imports are excluded from the analytical framework. The author argues that such an exclusion is both arbitrary and unrealistic. The author reexamines the consequences of permanent and transitory changes in terms of trade in a rational-expectations model of a small open economy with intertemporally optimizing agents, and with trade in both consumption and capital goods. In this framework, the responses to a permanent terms of trade improvement in unambiguous: the long-run capital stock, and thus investment, must rise, and the current account must deteriorate -- exactly the opposite of the Laursen-Metzler effect. A transitory improvement in the terms of trade raises saving but has an uncertaineffect on investment. So, the impact on the current account is generally ambiguous and is shown to depend on three factors: the import contents on consumption and investment, the duration of the windfall, and the degree of intertemporal substitutability in both consumption and investment.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 1424.

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Date of creation: 28 Feb 1995
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:1424
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  1. Rudiger Dornbusch, 1981. "Real Interest Rates, Home Goods, and Optimal External Borrowing," NBER Working Papers 0779, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Gavin, Michael, 1992. "Monetary policy, exchange rates, and investment in a Keynesian economy," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 11(2), pages 145-161, April.
  3. Cha, Baekin, 1993. "Dynamic effects of a terms-of-trade shock on a small open economy," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 43(2), pages 205-209.
  4. Buiter, W, 1982. "Saddlepoint Problems in Continuous Time Rational Expectations Models : A General Method and Some Macroeconomic Examples," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 200, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  5. Reuven Glick & Kenneth Rogoff, 1993. "Global Versus Country-Specific Productivity Shocks and the Current Acocount," Boston University - Institute for Economic Development 31, Boston University, Institute for Economic Development.
  6. Serven, Luis, 1995. "Capital goods imports, the real exchange rate and the current account," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(1-2), pages 79-101, August.
  7. Partha Sen & Stephen J. Turnovsky, 1988. "Deterioration of the Terms of Trade and Capital Accumulation: A Reexamination of the Laursen-Metzler Effect," NBER Working Papers 2616, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Maurice Obstfeld., 1996. "Intertemporal Price Speculation and the Optimal Current-Account Deficit: Reply and Clarification," Center for International and Development Economics Research (CIDER) Working Papers C96-063, University of California at Berkeley.
  9. Svensson, Lars E O, 1984. "Oil Prices, Welfare, and the Trade Balance," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 99(4), pages 649-72, November.
  10. Obstfeld, Maurice, 1982. "Aggregate Spending and the Terms of Trade: Is There a Laursen-Metzler Effect?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 97(2), pages 251-70, May.
  11. Macklem, R Tiff, 1993. "Terms-of-Trade Disturbances and Fiscal Policy in a Small Open Economy," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 103(419), pages 916-36, July.
  12. Lahiri, Amartya, 1996. "Intertemporal price speculation and the optimal current-account deficit: a comment," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 135-139, February.
  13. Gavin, Michael, 1991. "Income effects of adjustment to a terms of trade disturbance and the demand for adjustment finance," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(1-2), pages 127-153, November.
  14. Svensson, Lars E O & Razin, Assaf, 1983. "The Terms of Trade and the Current Account: The Harberger-Laursen-Metzler Effect," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 91(1), pages 97-125, February.
  15. Arvanitis, Athanasios V & Mikkola, Anne, 1996. "Asset-Market Structure and International Trade Dynamics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(2), pages 67-70, May.
  16. Obstfeld, Maurice, 1983. "Intertemporal price speculation and the optimal current-account deficit," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 2(2), pages 135-145, August.
  17. Hayashi, Fumio & Inoue, Tohru, 1991. "The Relation between Firm Growth and Q with Multiple Capital Goods: Theory and Evidence from Panel Data on Japanese Firms," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 59(3), pages 731-53, May.
  18. Sadka, Joyce C. & Yi, Kei-Mu, 1996. "Consumer durables, permanent terms of trade shocks, and the recent US trade deficits," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 15(5), pages 797-811, October.
  19. Tornell, Aaron & Lane, Philip R., 1998. "Are windfalls a curse?: A non-representative agent model of the current account," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(1), pages 83-112, February.
  20. Matsuyama, Kiminori, 1988. "Terms-of-Trade, Factor Intensities and the Current Account in a Life-Cycle Model," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 55(2), pages 247-62, April.
  21. Gavin, Michael, 1990. "Structural adjustment to a terms of trade disturbance : The role of relative prices," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(3-4), pages 217-243, May.
  22. Spatafora, Nikola & Warner, Andrew, 1995. "Macroeconomic effects of terms-of-trade shocks : the case of oil-exporting countries," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1410, The World Bank.
  23. Mendoza, Enrique G, 1995. "The Terms of Trade, the Real Exchange Rate, and Economic Fluctuations," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 36(1), pages 101-37, February.
  24. van Wincoop, Eric, 1993. "Structural adjustment and the construction sector," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 177-201, January.
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