International trade

Tadashi Ito, Ryohei Nakamura, Manabu Morita, 13 February 2018

For regional firms to survive, they need to find export markets using wholesalers as intermediaries. This column uses a dataset of export activity in Japan to show that this type of indirect export activity occurs predominantly from metropolitan areas, with the probability of direct exports negatively correlated with the distance between manufacturer and wholesaler. Wholesaler productivity (though not manufacturer productivity) was correlated with the probability of these indirect exports, suggesting that wholesalers search for suitable manufacturers, but not vice versa.

Emine Boz, Gita Gopinath, Mikkel Plagborg-Moller, 11 February 2018

In international macroeconomics, it is typically assumed that the exchange rate between two trading partners matters most for trade prices, quantities, and terms of trade. This column presents evidence supporting an alternate view – that a country’s exchange rate relative to the US dollar is most important. This is because invoicing in dollars is common, even when the US is not part of a transaction. The findings have important implications for the conduct of monetary and exchange rate policies.

Osea Giuntella, Matthias Rieger, Lorenzo Rotunno, 02 February 2018

The majority of obese adults are now found in developing countries This column presents new evidence on the effects of trade on obesity in Mexico. The results indicate that across Mexican states, a one standard deviation increase in the unhealthy share of food imports from the US increases the likelihood of individuals being obese by about 5 percentage points. As developing countries around the world open up their food markets to industrialised countries, they may be accelerating their ongoing nutrition transition and imposing high future costs on their health systems.

Marion Jansen, Joost Pauwelyn, Theresa Carpenter, 31 January 2018

International economic dispute settlement is under increased scrutiny. How are decisions made about the ‘fairness’ of national or foreign policies? How are damages to be paid by governments to private investors calculated? This column introduces a book with contributions from academics and practitioners that explore whether economists can be of use in addressing these and other contentious questions in international trade and investor–state disputes.

Simon Evenett, Johannes Fritz, 24 January 2018

On 22 January 2018, President Trump imposed safeguard duties on imported washing machines and solar panels and cells. This column analyses import surges into the US from 2006 to 2016 to put these tariff increases in perspective. Using a simple, theory-inspired method for identifying surges, it finds that during 2014-6 a category of manufactured good in the US had a one-in-32 chance of witnessing an import surge each year. US import surges aren’t concentrated in sectors where China has severe excess capacity either.

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