A major concern with multinationals is that they can cause disemployment (also called job offshoring). However, FDI could offset or even exceed such a negative effect. This column examines to what extent disemployment in Japan is related to FDI. The results suggest that disemployment in Japan is driven by substitution between capital and labour, rather than the reallocation of labour caused by FDI.
The post-Crisis G7 economies have suffered weak business investment despite record low interest rates and the favourable financial positions of corporates. Some consider this the ‘new normal’ arising from secular, supply-side forces that have contributed to declining potential growth rates. This column argues that structural factors alone are not sufficient to explain the current weakness in investment rates. There is thus room for positive surprise if companies realise the pent-up investment demand.
To reduce the risk of international commerce banks offer specific trade finance products, the most prominent being letters of credit. This column employs US banking data to show that reductions in the supply of such trade finance have considerable effects on the levels and patterns of exports, especially to small and poor countries and during times of financial distress.
The importance of world shocks for the UK economy has been demonstrated by the events since 2007. This column suggests that world shocks are likely to have driven around two-thirds of the shortfall in output since 2007. Trade linkages are an important channel for the transmission of world shocks to the UK, but financial linkages and spillovers through uncertainty are likely to account for the majority of the impact.
A large literature shows the importance of firm heterogeneity in determining trade patterns. This column discusses policy implementation issues related to the ‘new new trade theory’. The nature of an export good – be it consumption or production oriented – influences the importance of firm productivity in the export decision. The relationship between productivity and markups also varies across industries; pro-export policies must take account of this, lest they exacerbate distortion.
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