To mitigate the risks of international trade for firms, banks offer trade finance products – specifically, letters of credit and documentary collections. This column exploits new data from the SWIFT Institute to establish key facts on the use of these instruments in world trade. Letters of credit (documentary collections) cover 12.5% (1.7%) of world trade, or $2.3 trillion ($310 billion).
Friederike Niepmann, Tim Schmidt-Eisenlohr, 11 June 2016
Jérôme Héricourt, Clément Nedoncelle, 11 June 2016
The idea that exchange rate volatility generates additional costs and uncertainty that are detrimental to international trade is widely accepted. This column argues that big, multi-destination firms – which account for the bulk of aggregate exports – reallocate exports across countries as a foreign exchange hedge. When bilateral volatility increases relative to multilateral volatility, exports towards the considered market are hampered, but exports remain mainly unchanged at the macro level.
Alessandra Bonfiglioli, Rosario Crinò, Gino Gancia, 13 January 2016
Inequality, both in firm revenues and wages, varies greatly across sectors, has increased over time and is positively correlated to export opportunities. To explain these observations, this column propose a new theory in which firms’ investment at the entry stage affects the variance of the possible realisations of their productivity. It suggests that export opportunities and competition, besides reallocating resources across existing firms, increase the value of technological heterogeneity. This hints to a new powerful channel through which globalisation is making firms and wages more unequal.
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.
Emilie Anér, Anna Graneli, Magnus Lodefalk, 14 October 2015
A large body of research has established a positive link between immigrants and bilateral trade. However, the temporary movement of people across borders has received less attention. This column uses Swedish data to analyse the impact of temporary cross-border movement on trade. Recently arrived migrants are found to reduce the negative impact of distance on foreign trade, by assisting firms to overcome informal and informational barriers to trade with their origin country. Facilitating movement of people across borders can be a highly useful tool for engaging in and benefitting from specialised and internationalised production networks.
Andrew K Rose, 01 September 2015
A nation’s hard power is based on its ability to coerce, while its soft power depends on the attractiveness of its culture, political ideals, and policies. This column shows that a country’s soft power has measureable effects on its exports. Countries that are admired for their positive global influence export more, holding other things constant.
Swarnali Ahmed, Maximiliano Appendino, Michele Ruta, 27 August 2015
The export-less depreciation of the yen has opened a debate on the power of exchange rates to boost exports. This column presents new evidence on how the exchange rate elasticity of exports has changed over time and across countries, and how global value chains have affected it. The upshot is that greater integration in global value chains makes exports substantially less responsive to exchange rate depreciations.
Rosario Crinò, Laura Ogliari, 29 July 2015
The production of high-quality goods influences key aspects of countries’ economic performance, including growth and development. This column argues that removing credit market imperfections may help countries transition from the production of low-quality to high-quality goods, especially in industries that are more sensitive to financial frictions.
Takatoshi Ito, Satoshi Koibuchi, Kiyotaka Sato, Junko Shimizu, 29 June 2015
Japanese firms have been struggling with the yen’s volatility ever since the peg was dropped in 1973. This column, based on a recent survey of Japanese firms, argues that many firms have managed their exchange rate exposure by using operational and financial hedging strategies. It also finds that firms employing currency hedge and invoicing exports in yen are judged by the market to have reduced currency exposures.
Gianmarco I.P. Ottaviano, Giovanni Peri, Greg C. Wright, 17 June 2015
International trade in services and immigration are among the fastest growing aspects of globalisation. Using UK data, this column explores the links between these phenomena. Immigrants promote exports of final services to their home countries, while also reducing imports for some intermediate services, and bringing productivity gains to the labour market. In designing immigration policies, it is important that the potential impact on exports and offshoring activities are carefully considered.
Simon J Evenett, Johannes Fritz, 16 June 2015
The Global Crisis resulted in many trade barriers and distortions. This column introduces a new eBook that argues that least developed countries were hard hit by these barriers. Drawing on Global Trade Alert data, it argues that these barriers reduced these nations’ exports by 30% during the period 2009 to 2013 – over a quarter of a trillion US dollars in total.
Uri Dadush, 13 March 2015
Manufacturing is often seen as the key to sustainable export and productivity growth in developing countries. This column argues that, while manufacturing played a key role in some countries’ development, high growth can be sustained without relying primarily on manufacturing. A process of learning, productivity improvement, and investment that touches all sectors characterises the most successful economies. Policies that artificially favour manufacturing should instead give way to maximising learning from the frontier in all sectors of the economy.
Otaviano Canuto, Cornelius Fleischhaker, Philip Schellekens, 11 January 2015
While Brazil has become one of the largest economies in the world, it remains among the most closed economies as measured by the share of exports and imports in GDP. This column argues that this cannot be explained simply by the size of Brazil’s economy. Rather it is due to a reliance on domestic value chain integration as opposed to participation in global production networks. Greater trade openness could produce efficiency gains and help Brazil address its productivity and competitiveness challenges.
Atsuyuki Kato, 25 November 2014
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.
Maria Bas, Vanessa Strauss-Kahn, 14 July 2014
The rise of trade in intermediate inputs is well documented, but its role in shaping domestic economies is not yet completely understood. This column presents evidence from French firms on the effects of importing intermediate inputs. Firms importing more varieties of intermediate inputs increased their productivity and exported more varieties. Foreign inputs from the most advanced economies have the strongest effect on firm productivity, but imported inputs from all countries help raise the number of export varieties.
Kerem Cosar, Nezih Guner, James R Tybout, 07 July 2014
Trade liberalisations are often accompanied by labour market reforms, making it difficult to isolate their effects. This column discusses the effects of trade liberalisation, globalisation, and labour-market reforms on the Colombian labour market. Reduced trade frictions increased cross-firm wage inequality and shifted the firm-size distribution rightward, with offsetting effects on overall wage inequality. Average income increased, but the gains were concentrated among employees of large, productive firms with access to export markets. Greater trade openness also increased job turnover.
Filippo di Mauro, Francesco Pappadà, 02 June 2014
Trade imbalances in the Eurozone require relative price adjustments. This column argues that the traditional ‘elasticity’ approach is lacking when thinking about the adjustment magnitude. Exports adjust when exporting firms sell more (intensive margin) and new firms start exporting (extensive margin). The extensive-margin reaction depends upon the fatness of firm-level productivity distributions. Surplus-country distributions have fatter tails than deficit countries, suggesting that the price adjustment magnitude may be larger than traditional calculations suggest.
Julien Martin, Florian Mayneris, 04 December 2013
While quality upgrading is always viewed positively in both policy and academic circles, little is known about the macro implications for countries of specialising in high-end varieties. This column presents evidence that high-end variety exporters are less sensitive to trade costs. This implies a greater geographic diversification of exports, which compensates for their higher sensitivity to demand shocks and smoothes aggregate volatility. It also increases export growth when business opportunities arise in distant markets.
Balázs Égert, Rafał Kierzenkowski, 02 October 2013
Decreasing world market share in exports threatens France’s recovery. Traditional determinants of exports do not fully explain the downturn. This paper presents a novel explanation for France’s declining exports: the real-estate boom. Strong profitability in the construction industry, led by rising house prices, diverted capital and labour from export-intensive industries. These results suggest a strong warning against policies supporting property ownership as an end in itself.
Holger Görg, Marina-Eliza Spaliara, 13 September 2013
International trade declined dramatically during the Global Crisis. This column focuses on UK firms that exited from exporting during the Global Crisis. The evidence clearly points to the importance of financial factors. Firms that exited were more heavily indebted, less liquid, and faced higher firm-specific interest rates.