International trade

Roberto Bonfatti, Kevin O'Rourke, 25 May 2017

Classical models suggest that shifts in the balance of power can lead to conflict, where the established power has the incentive to trigger war to deter the threat to its dominance. This column argues that this changes if international trade is taken into account. Industrialisation requires the import of natural resources, potentially leading a smaller nation to trigger war either against a resource-rich country or the incumbent nation. The model can help explain the US-Japanese conflict of 1941 and Hitler’s invasion of Poland, and has implications for US-Chinese relations today.

Woo Jin Choi, Alan Taylor, 22 May 2017

Widening global imbalances, driven by reserve accumulation, can help us investigate how real exchange rates are determined. Standard theory would predict real exchange rate appreciation when there is an increase in net foreign assets. This column uses recent data from 75 countries to argue that, in practice, there is the opposite correlation in the particular case of reserve accumulation, notably in countries with higher capital controls and in developing countries.

Peter Egger, Filip Tarlea, 20 May 2017

Putting a number on how effective policymakers are in boosting cross-border trade is important. But doing so in a statistically sound way is not trivial. This column presents a new methodology to identify the causal effect of preferential economic integration agreements. It finds trade effects that are somewhat smaller than predicted by established, but problematic, procedures.

Ricardo Fernholz, Kris Mitchener, Marc Weidenmier, 18 May 2017

There has been speculation that the dollar may soon be displaced by the euro or renminbi as the primary international currency. This column examines the demise of silver-based monetary standards in the 19th century to explore price dynamics when a money ceases to function as a global unit of account. According to new data on the historical prices of agricultural commodities, silver ceased functioning as a global price anchor in the mid-1890s. Over the same period, the volatility of agricultural commodity prices also declined.

Steven Brakman, Harry Garretsen, Tristan Kohl, 11 May 2017

New trade deals for the UK will be an important part of the Brexit negotiations, not only with the EU but also with the rest of the world. This column argues, however, that the UK has no trade-enhancing alternative to an agreement with the EU that essentially mimics its current situation as an EU member. A gravity model predicts that the negative impact of Brexit would be only marginally offset by a bilateral trade agreement with the US, and even in the case of trade agreements with all non-EU countries, the UK’s value-added exports would still fall by more than 6%.  

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