Frank Pisch, 30 June 2020

The Covid-19 pandemic has re-opened debate about the merits and drawbacks of highly coordinated global supply chains in manufacturing. This column documents the economic relevance, geographical properties and ownership structure of French manufacturing firms in international just-in-time supply chains – as well as potential implications for global value chains in a post-Covid-19 world. Just-in-time supply chains are likely to become more prevalent, contribute to further regionalisation of international trade, and generate an increase in multinational production.

Sébastien Miroudot, 18 June 2020

Some governments assert that global value chains create economic vulnerabilities in times of a pandemic. This column, taken from a recent Vox eBook, examines recent experiences and the risk-management literature. It concludes that it is a mistake to equate self-sufficiency with robustness – putting all the eggs in one basket is still not a good idea.  It is also a mistake to focus on production location when the imperative is to radically scale up production of vital medical supplies. Importantly, international supply chains will be needed to produce the billions of doses of COVID-19 vaccine we will soon need to manufacture and distribute. 

Anton Pichler, Marco Pangallo, R. Maria del Rio-Chanona, François Lafond, J. Doyne Farmer, 07 June 2020

Many governments are slowly unwinding their economies from nationwide lockdowns. However, re-opening the economy entails a serious trade-off between fostering economic output and keeping the spread of infection low. This column reports several re-opening scenarios for the UK economy, documenting their projected impacts on both GDP and the spread of the virus. The results suggest that it is best to re-open upstream industries first, as they provide a large direct and indirect economic boost at a relatively lower cost in terms of further epidemic spreading.

Richard Baldwin, Rebecca Freeman, 22 May 2020

International trade has helped many nations get vital medical supplies during this pandemic, yet a number of new, protectionist initiatives have been taken or discussed which could disrupt global value chains. This column presents calculations showing that national manufacturing sectors all across the globe are highly interdependent, that these connections have risen since the 2008/9 crisis, and that China is pivotal in the network of dependencies. Given this, policies that seek to hinder supply-chain trade could prove costly. 

Christopher Woodruff, 30 April 2020

Low-income countries lack the resources to replicate European-style income support programmes to alleviate the economic impact of COVID-19 lockdowns. In Bangladesh, a key challenge will be to support export-oriented production in the ready-made garment sector, which employs 4 million workers. Whether factories retain or lay off workers in response to government policies – and whether the health crisis escalates into a humanitarian crisis or not – depends crucially on decisions of foreign apparel buyers to honour or drop commitments to previously agreed orders.

Hiroyasu Inoue, Yasuyuki Todo, 16 April 2020

Cities and regions around the world are in lockdown in an attempt to contain the spread of Covid-19. This column examines how the economic effect of the lockdown of a city can propagate to other regions in the country, focusing on the case of Tokyo. The findings suggest that if Tokyo were to be locked down for two weeks, the loss in value added production in the city would be 4.3 trillion yen, while the production loss in the rest of Japan due to propagation through supply chains would be 5 trillion yen. In addition, the effect on other regions becomes progressively larger as the duration of the lockdown grows.

Yuzuka Kashiwagi, 06 December 2019

With more frequent and severe natural disasters, demand is growing for governments to support affected firms in their recovery. This column investigates the impact of subsidies after the Great East Japan Earthquake. It finds that capital subsidies were effective for the retail sector, but not in the manufacturing or other service sectors. The results suggest that the heterogeneity comes from variations in the degree of private support across sectors rather than variations in supply chain disruption.

Tetsuji Okazaki, 13 November 2019

During World War II aircraft production in Japan increased sharply. This column, part of the Vox debate on the economics of WWII, examines the reasons for this ‘production miracle’, focusing on an aircraft manufacturing plant of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Co., one of the two largest aircraft producers in Japan. The key to the production increase was the expansion of the supplier network. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries organized many suppliers to provide aircraft parts to its plants. However, in the final stage of the war, destruction of the supplier network by strategic bombing and an earthquake caused the collapse of the company’s aircraft production.

Hiroyasu Inoue, Yasuyuki Todo, 10 September 2019

Natural disasters can have enormous economic consequences that affect firms both directly and indirectly. Using the example of the Great East Japan Earthquake, this column investigates how the propagation of shocks varies with the characteristics of supply chains. It finds that the indirect effects are far larger than the direct effects. Shocks propagate more widely and are more persistent if supply networks have complex cycles and low input substitutability.

Yi Huang, Chen Lin, Sibo Liu, Heiwai Tang, 25 June 2019

Recent studies have found that US tariffs on China have led to a significant welfare loss and significant increases in consumer prices in the US. This column, taken from a recent Vox eBook, studies firms’ equity market responses to the various tariff announcements by the US and Chinese governments in 2018 and 2019. The responses demonstrate that the structure of US–China trade is much more complex than the simplistic view of global trade that prompted the trade war, and that the winners and losers in the war depend on firms’ positioning in, and exposure to, the global value chains shared by the two countries.  

Sergi Basco, Martí Mestieri, 19 May 2019

Trade in intermediates (or ‘unbundling of production') and trade in capital have become increasingly important in last 25 years. This column shows that trade in intermediates generates a reallocation of capital across countries that exacerbates world inequality in both income and welfare. Unbundling of production hurts middle-income countries but helps those with high productivity. Trade in intermediates also increases within-country inequality, and this increase is U-shaped in the aggregate productivity level of the country. 

Wen Chen, Bart Los, Philip McCann, Raquel Ortega-Argiles , Mark Thissen, Frank van Oort, 19 December 2017

Analyses of the impact of various types of Brexit at the national level hide a lot of regional economic heterogeneity. This column deploys a new interregional dataset to quantify the shares of regional labour income that are exposed to the implications of Brexit for trade, taking into account the indirect effects of supply chain relations. The results show that much more is at stake for UK regions than for the rest of the EU, with the exception of Ireland.

Hiroyasu Inoue, Yasuyuki Todo, 25 April 2017

Natural disasters have enormous economic consequences, with the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake providing a particularly stark recent example. This column uses supply chain data for more than one million Japanese firms to explore how negative shocks from natural disasters propagate through firm networks. Shocks are found to propagate very quickly, due in large part to certain ‘hub’ firms that have a high number of supply chain partners. Production substitution is the key to slowing the propagation.

Jean-Noël Barrot, Julien Sauvagnat, 26 February 2015

Little is known about how adverse shocks spread through production networks. This column presents quantitative evidence on inter-firm contagion using natural disasters as exogenous instruments. Adverse shocks to upstream suppliers lower sales growth and valuation of a downstream firm.

Theodore Moran, 30 January 2015

Joining international supply chains has helped some developing nations to industrialise while leaving others by the wayside. This column discusses research that extract lessons from four case studies. It suggests the key to success is combining pro-active investment promotion with customised infrastructure improvements and public-private vocational training that allow investors to fit production from a novel site seamlessly into the company’s international supplier network.

Matthias Helble, Boon-Loong Ngiang, 08 September 2014

Over the past two decades East Asia has been highly successful in building up and joining global supply chains, and has been described as Factory Asia. This column argues that East Asia, apart from being the centre of global manufacturing, is now also emerging as one of the world's leading final markets for consumption goods. 

Bernard Hoekman, 19 May 2014

The World Trade Organisation is one of the most successful instances of multilateral cooperation post-WWII. Yet WTO negotiators have yet found a way to break the recent deadlock on key elements such as the market access and rule-making dimensions on the agenda since 2001. This column introduces a new CEPR book that suggests the adoption of a ‘supply chain framework’ that could help to mobilise greater support for concluding the Doha Round and provide a basis to use the WTO as a forum for learning from regional initiatives.

Marc Melitz, Stephen Redding, 10 March 2014

Recent research has sought to quantify the magnitude of the welfare gains from trade. One of the main findings from this literature is that the gains from trade are relatively modest. This column suggests a channel that the standard approach typically abstracts from. It argues that trade induces changes in domestic productivity through a more efficient organisation of production within the supply chain.

Ayako Saiki, Sunghyun Kim, 02 February 2014

Before the introduction of the euro, it was hoped that by promoting increased intra-regional trade it would increase business-cycle synchronisation within the Eurozone, and thus help it to fulfil the criteria for an optimum currency area. This column presents recent research that compares the evolution of business-cycle synchronisation in the Eurozone and east Asia. While the euro has had some impact on business-cycle synchronisation in the Eurozone, it has done so not through increased intra-regional trade intensity, but rather through some other channel – most likely financial integration.

Gary Horlick, 31 January 2014

World-leading trade lawyer, Gary Horlick, talks to Viv Davies about the 2013 WTO Bali ministerial conference and the post-Bali agenda. Horlick discusses food security, agriculture and whether mega regional trade agreements pose a threat to the future of the WTO. They also discuss the potential benefits of the post-Bali agenda for developing countries and the ‘trade transforming’ effect of SMEs and the internet. The interview was recorded in January 2014.

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