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Author:Alessandria, George 

Working Paper
Inventories, lumpy trade, and large devaluations
Fixed transaction costs and delivery lags are important costs of international trade. These costs lead firms to import infrequently and hold substantially larger inventories of imported goods than domestic goods. Using multiple sources of data, we document these facts. We then show that a parsimoniously parameterized model economy with importers facing an (S, s)-type inventory management problem successfully accounts for these features of the data. Moreover, the model can account for import and import price dynamics in the aftermath of large devaluations. In particular, desired inventory adjustment in response to a sudden, large increase in the relative price of imported goods creates a short-term trade implosion, an immediate, temporary drop in the value and number of distinct varieties imported, as well as a slow increase in the retail price of imported goods. Our study of six current account reversals following large devaluation episodes in the last decade provide strong support for the model's predictions.
AUTHORS: Kaboski, Joseph P.; Midrigan, Virgiliu; Alessandria, George
DATE: 2008

Working Paper
Export dynamics in large devaluations
We study the source and consequences of sluggish export dynamics in emerging markets following large devaluations. We document two main features of exports that are puzzling for standard trade models. First, given the change in relative prices, exports tend to grow gradually following a devaluation. Second, high interest rates tend to suppress exports. To address these features of export dynamics, we embed a model of endogenous export participation due to sunk and per period export costs into an otherwise standard small open economy. In response to shocks to productivity, the interest rate, and the discount factor, we find the model can capture the salient features of export dynamics documented. At the aggregate level, the features giving rise to sluggish exports lead to more gradual net export reversals, sharper contractions and recoveries in output, and endogenous stagnation in labor productivity.
AUTHORS: Yue, Vivian Z.; Pratap, Sangeeta; Alessandria, George
DATE: 2013

Working Paper
Violating purchasing power parity.
This paper demonstrates that deviations from the law of one price are an important source of violations of absolute PPP across countries. Using highly disaggregated U.S. export data, we document evidence of systematic international price discrimination based on the local wage of consumers in the destination market. We show that most violations from absolute PPP can also be explained by international differences in wages. We find very little additional explanation is due to differences in income per capita. Developing and calibrating a model of pricing-to-market based on search frictions and international productivity differences, we show that pricing-to-market accounts for 62 percent of the relationship between national price levels and income and 100 percent of the deviation from the law of one price. In contrast, the textbook Harrod-Balassa-Samuelson effect accounts for the remaining 38 percent of the relationship between national price levels and income.
AUTHORS: Alessandria, George; Kaboski, Joseph P.
DATE: 2004

Working Paper
Trade and the (dis)incentive to reform labor markets: the case of reform in the European Union.
In a closed economy general equilibrium model, Hopenhayn and Rogerson (1993) find large welfare gains to removing firing restrictions. We explore the extent to which international trade alters this result. When economies trade, labor market policies in one country spill over to other countries through a change in the terms of trade. This reduces the incentive to reform labor markets. In a policy game over firing taxes between countries, we find that countries optimally choose positive levels of firing taxes. A coordinated elimination of firing taxes yields considerable benefits. This insight provides some explanation for recent efforts toward labor market reform in the European Union
AUTHORS: Alessandria, George; Delacroix, Alain
DATE: 2004

Working Paper
Do sunk costs of exporting matter for net export dynamics?
Not all firms export every period. Firms enter and exit foreign markets. Previous research has suggested that these export participation decisions have significant aggregate implications. In particular, it has been argued that these export decisions are important for the comovements of net exports and the real exchange rate. In this paper, the authors evaluate these predictions in a general equilibrium environment. Specifically, assuming that firms face an up-front, sunk cost of entering foreign markets and a smaller period-by-period continuation cost, they derive the discrete entry and exit decisions yielding exporter dynamics in an otherwise standard equilibrium open economy business cycle model. The authors show that the export decisions of firms in the model are influenced by the business cycle in a manner consistent with evidence presented for U.S. exporters. However, in contrast to previous partial equilibrium analyses, model results reveal that the aggregate effects of these export decisions are negligible.
AUTHORS: Alessandria, George; Choi, Horag
DATE: 2005

Working Paper
Do falling iceberg costs explain recent U.S. export growth?
Superseded by Working Paper 12-20 ; The authors study the rise in U.S. manufacturing exports from 1987 to 2002 through the lens of a monopolistically competitive model with heterogeneous producers and sunk costs of exporting. Using the model, they infer that iceberg costs fell nearly 27 percent in this period. Given this change in iceberg costs, the authors use the model to calculate the predicted increase in trade. Contrary to the findings in Yi (2003), they find that the exports should have grown an additional 70 percent (78.7 vs. 46.4). The model overpredicts export growth partly because it misses the shift in manufacturing to relatively small establishments that did not invest in becoming exporters. Contrary to the theory, employment was largely reallocated from very large establishments, those with more than 2,500 employees, toward very small manufacturing establishments, those with fewer than 100 employees. The authors also find that very little of the contraction in U.S. manufacturing employment can be attributed to trade.
AUTHORS: Choi, Horag; Alessandria, George
DATE: 2010

Working Paper
Trade wedges, inventories, and international business cycles
The large, persistent fluctuations in international trade that cannot be explained in standard models by changes in expenditures and relative prices are often attributed to trade wedges. We show that these trade wedges can reflect the decisions of importers to change their inventory holdings. We find that a two-country model of international business cycles with an inventory management decision can generate trade flows and wedges consistent with the data. Moreover, matching trade flows alters the international transmission of business cycles. Specifically, real net exports become countercyclical and consumption is less correlated across countries than in standard models. We also show that ignoring inventories as a source of trade wedges substantially overstates the role of trade wedges in business cycle fluctuations.
AUTHORS: Alessandria, George; Midrigan, Virgiliu; Kaboski, Joseph P.
DATE: 2012

Working Paper
U.S. trade and inventory dynamics
The authors examine the source of the large fall and rebound in U.S. trade in the recent recession. While trade fell and rebounded more than expenditures or production of traded goods, they find that relative to the magnitude of the downturn, these trade fluctuations were in line with those in previous business cycle fluctuations. The authors argue that the high volatility of trade is attributed to more severe inventory management considerations of firms involved in international trade. They present empirical evidence for autos as well as at the aggregate level that the adjustment of inventory holdings helps explain these fluctuations in trade.
AUTHORS: Alessandria, George; Midrigan, Virgiliu; Kaboski, Joseph P.
DATE: 2011

Working Paper
Inventories, lumpy trade, and large devaluations
Fixed transaction costs and delivery lags are important costs of international trade. These costs lead firms to import infrequently and hold substantially larger inventories of imported goods than domestic goods. Using multiple sources of data, the authors document these facts. They then show that a parsimoniously parameterized model economy with importers facing an (S, s)-type inventory management problem successfully accounts for these features of the data. Moreover, the model can account for import and import price dynamics in the aftermath of large devaluations. In particular, desired inventory adjustment in response to a sudden, large increase in the relative price of imported goods creates a short-term trade implosion, an immediate, temporary drop in the value and number of distinct varieties imported, as well as a slow increase in the retail price of imported goods. The authors' study of 6 current account reversals following large devaluation episodes in the last decade provides strong support for the model?s predictions.
AUTHORS: Alessandria, George; Midrigan, Virgiliu; Kaboski, Joseph P.
DATE: 2008

Working Paper
The great trade collapse of 2008-2009: an inventory adjustment?
This paper examines the role of inventories in the decline of production, trade, and expenditures in the US in the economic crisis of late 2008 and 2009. Empirically, the authors show that international trade declined more drastically than trade-weighted production or absorption and there was a sizeable inventory adjustment. This is most clearly evident for autos, the industry with the largest drop in trade. However, relative to the magnitude of the US downturn, these movements in trade are quite typical. The authors develop a two-country general equilibrium model with endogenous inventory holdings in response to frictions in domestic and foreign transactions costs. With more severe frictions on international transactions, in a downturn, the calibrated model shows a larger decline in output and an even larger decline in international trade, relative to a more standard model without inventories. The magnitudes of production, trade, and inventory responses are quantitatively similar to those observed in the current and previous US recessions.
AUTHORS: Alessandria, George; Kaboski, Joseph P.; Midrigan, Virgiliu
DATE: 2010

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