Michel Fouquin, Jules Hugot, 17 September 2016

Historians and economists generally identify two periods of trade globalisation, the first beginning around 1870 and the second during the 1970s. The column argues that new data from 1827 onwards shows globalisation beginning as trade barriers were lowered around 1840, and that both periods of globalisation were surprisingly fuelled by a regionalisation of world trade. If globalisation continues to grow in future, regionalisation may decline.

Cletus Coughlin, Dennis Novy, 08 May 2016

Borders impede trade, and a major objective of research in international trade has been to identify by how much. This column argues that bilateral trade data can give a misleading picture. Larger countries have inherently smaller border effects because their data aggregate over more space and economic activity. Trade economists need to think harder about how slicing up the map at the level of countries drives estimates of important policy variables.

Pierre-Louis Vézina, David von Below, 20 January 2016

The price of oil rose to unprecedented highs in the 2000s, and its recent plunge took many by surprise. Although there are many consequences of such price fluctuations on the world economy, they are notoriously difficult to pin down. This column examines the trade consequences of varying shipping costs caused by oil price fluctuations. High oil prices are found to increase the distance elasticity of trade, making trade less global. The recent drop in oil prices could thus be a boon for globalisation. 

Willem Thorbecke, 21 December 2015

A good understanding of the evolution of exports over the years is crucial for the design of trade policy. This column dissects Japanese exports using a gravity model and concludes that it would be beneficial for Japanese companies to diversify their exports by shipping more to China, Europe, and South Korea.

Peter van Bergeijk, 06 November 2014

A quarter of a century ago, the Iron Curtain and Berlin Wall were demolished. This was one of the most visible consequences of the fall of communism. In the decades before 1989 political conflict had shaped the world trade pattern. Against the background of political tensions in the Ukraine, this column investigates the vulnerability of the world trade system.

Dennis Novy, 11 October 2012

Trade barriers such as transportation costs and tariffs reduce international trade. But when these trade barriers come down, do they increase international trade equally among countries? This column presents evidence from OECD countries that trade costs have a differential impact depending on the trade intensity of the countries involved. When they already trade a lot, country pairs hardly benefit. But bilateral trade grows faster when the initial trade relationship was thin.

Livia Chiţu, Barry Eichengreen, Arnaud Mehl, 03 October 2012

International investment patterns play an important role in policy debates ranging from global imbalances to banking crises. This column shows that history should not be neglected on this score. It suggests that 10% to 15% of the cross-country variation in US investors’ foreign bond holdings is explained by this 'history effect', which reflects fixed costs of market entry and exit together with endogenous learning.

Andreas Lendle, Marcelo Olarreaga, Simon Schropp, Pierre-Louis Vézina, 03 September 2012

Geographic distance continues to encumber international trade despite advances in transportation and communication technologies. This column shows that eBay, an online market, reduces the effect of distance on trade by 65%, mainly by reducing information frictions. As consumers 'put their money where their mouse is', welfare gains are largest where they are most needed, i.e. in remote countries with bad institutions.

Marcelo Olarreaga, Andreas Lendle, Simon Schropp, Pierre-Louis Vézina, 19 August 2012

This paper compares the impact of distance, a standard proxy for trade costs, on eBay and offline international trade flows, finding that the effect of distance to be on average 65% smaller on the eBay online platform than offline, and that online markets can help overcome government and offline market failures.

Richard Baldwin, Daria Taglioni, 10 June 2012

Global value chains are transforming world trade patterns. This column argues that the standard gravity formulation cannot be applied to trade flows where parts and components are important. This is because GDPs in origin and destination countries are poor proxies for supply and demand for parts and components. It shows that the standard model performs poorly on such flows and suggests an alternative specification.

Céline Carrère, Jaime de Melo, 10 November 2009

The distance puzzle is the surprising finding that the volume of trade has become increasingly sensitive to distance. This column shows that low-income countries, which increasingly trade with geographically closer partners, drive the finding. This regionalisation of trade for low-income countries may reflect progress – or problems.

Thierry Mayer, 21 April 2008

Finding explanations for cross-country differences in development levels is perhaps one of the most important questions in economics. CEPR DP6798 provides evidence that access to markets, measured as a theory-based index of market potential is an important factor in development.

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