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Border, Border, Wide and Far, How We Wonder What You Are

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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 present evidence that the distribution of intra-national real exchange rates is substantially less volatile and on average closer to zero, than the comparable distribution for international relative prices. We also show that an equally-weighted average of good-level real exchange rates tracks the nominal exchange rate well, suggesting strong evidence of sticky prices. We turn next to economic explanations for the dynamics of this so-called "Border" effect. Focusing on dispersion in prices between city pairs, we confirm previous findings that crossing national borders adds significantly to price dispersion. Using our point estimates crossing the U.S.-Japan "Border" is equivalent to adding between 2.5 and 13 million miles to the cross-country volatility of relative prices. We make a direct and explicit inference on the influence of shipping costs, distance, exchange rate and relative wage variability on the "Border" effect. In our calculations, the "Border" effect disappears after controlling for these additional variables.

Suggested Citation

  • David C. Parsley & Shang-Jin Wei, 1999. "Border, Border, Wide and Far, How We Wonder What You Are," CID Working Papers 25, Center for International Development at Harvard University.
  • Handle: RePEc:wop:cidhav:25
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    File URL: http://www.cid.harvard.edu/cidwp/pdf/025.pdf
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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.
    2. Paul G. J. O'Connell & Shang-Jin Wei, 1997. ""The Bigger They Are, The Harder They Fall": How Price Differences Across U.S. Cities Are Arbitraged," NBER Working Papers 6089, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    4. Engel, Charles & Rogers, John H, 1996. "How Wide Is the Border?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(5), pages 1112-1125, December.
    5. Bela Balassa, 1964. "The Purchasing-Power Parity Doctrine: A Reappraisal," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 72, pages 584-584.
    6. McCallum, John, 1995. "National Borders Matter: Canada-U.S. Regional Trade Patterns," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(3), pages 615-623, June.
    7. David C. Parsley & Shang-Jin Wei, 1996. "Convergence to the Law of One Price Without Trade Barriers or Currency Fluctuations," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 111(4), pages 1211-1236.
    8. Froot, Kenneth A. & Rogoff, Kenneth, 1995. "Perspectives on PPP and long-run real exchange rates," Handbook of International Economics, in: G. M. Grossman & K. Rogoff (ed.), Handbook of International Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 32, pages 1647-1688, Elsevier.
    9. Shang-Jin Wei, 1996. "Intra-National versus International Trade: How Stubborn are Nations in Global Integration?," NBER Working Papers 5531, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F31 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Foreign Exchange
    • F36 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Financial Aspects of Economic Integration

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