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

  • David C. Parsley
  • Shang-Jin Wei

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.

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File URL: http://www.cid.harvard.edu/cidwp/pdf/025.pdf
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Paper provided by Center for International Development at Harvard University in its series CID Working Papers with number 25.

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Date of creation: Sep 1999
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wop:cidhav:25
Contact details of provider: Postal: Center for International Development at Harvard University (CID). 79 John F. Kennedy Street, Cambridge, MA 02138.
Fax: 617-496-2554
Web page: http://www.cid.harvard.edu/cidwp/
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  1. 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.
  2. Engel, Charles, 1993. "Real exchange rates and relative prices : An empirical investigation," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 35-50, August.
  3. McCallum, John, 1995. "National Borders Matter: Canada-U.S. Regional Trade Patterns," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(3), pages 615-23, June.
  4. Kenneth A. Froot & Kenneth Rogoff, 1994. "Perspectives on PPP and Long-Run Real Exchange Rates," NBER Working Papers 4952, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Jeffrey A. Frankel and Andrew K. Rose., 1995. "A Panel Project on Purchasing Power Parity: Mean Reversion Within and Between Countries," Center for International and Development Economics Research (CIDER) Working Papers C95-052, University of California at Berkeley.
  6. 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.
  7. Charles Engel & John H. Rogers, 1995. "How wide is the border?," Research Working Paper 95-09, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
  8. David C. Parsley & Shang-Jin Wei, 1996. "Convergence to the Law of One Price Without Trade Barriers or Currency Fluctuations," NBER Working Papers 5654, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Bela Balassa, 1964. "The Purchasing-Power Parity Doctrine: A Reappraisal," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 72, pages 584.
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