Did the West Coast Port Dispute Contribute to the First-Quarter GDP Slowdown?
The decline in U.S. GDP of 0.2 percent in the first quarter of 2015 was much larger than market analysts expected, with net exports subtracting a staggering 1.9 percentage points (seasonally adjusted annualized rate). A range of factors is being discussed in policy circles to try to understand what contributed to this decline. Factors such as the strong U.S. dollar and weak foreign demand are usually incorporated in forecasters' models. However, the effects of unusual events such as extremely cold weather and labor disputes are more difficult to quantify in standard models. In this post, we ...
The Impact of Import Tariffs on U.S. Domestic Prices
The United States imposed new import tariffs on about $283 billion of U.S. imports in 2018, with rates ranging between 10 percent and 50 percent. In this post, we estimate the effect of these tariffs on the prices paid by U.S. producers and consumers. We find that the higher import tariffs had immediate impacts on U.S. domestic prices. Our results suggest that the aggregate consumer price index (CPI) is 0.3 percent higher than it would have been without the tariffs.
Why the Proposed Border Tax Adjustment Is Unlikely to Promote U.S. Exports
There has been much debate about the proposed border tax adjustment, in which U.S. firms would pay a 20 percent tax on all imported inputs and be exempt from paying taxes on export revenue. The view among many economists, including proponents of the plan, is that the U.S. dollar would appreciate by the full amount of the tax and thus completely offset any relative price effects. In this post, we consider the implications of an alternative scenario where the U.S. dollar only appreciates part of the way. This could happen, for example, as a result of the uncertainty surrounding the policy ...
U.S. Exporters Could Face High Tariffs without NAFTA
An underappreciated benefit of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is the protection it offers U.S. exporters from extreme tariff uncertainty in Mexico. U.S. exporters have not only gained greater tariff preferences under NAFTA than Mexican exporters gained in the United States, they have also been exempt from potential tariff hikes facing other exporters. Mexico’s bound tariff rates—the maximum tariff rate a World Trade Organization (WTO) member can impose—are very high and far exceed U.S. bound rates. Without NAFTA, there is a risk that tariffs on U.S. exports to Mexico ...
Why Renegotiating NAFTA Could Disrupt Supply Chains
Supply chains have become increasingly interlinked across the U.S.-Mexico border. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), allowing tariff-free commerce between the United States, Canada, and Mexico, has facilitated this integration. Some critics of NAFTA are concerned about the bilateral trade deficit and have proposed stricter rules of origin (ROO), which would make it more cumbersome for firms to access the zero tariff rates they are entitled to with NAFTA. We argue that measures that make it costlier for U.S. firms to import will also hurt U.S. exports because much of U.S.-Mexican ...
What’s Driving the Recent Slump in U.S. imports?
The growth in U.S. imports of goods has been stubbornly low since the second quarter of 2015, with an average annual growth rate of 0.7 percent. Growth has been even weaker for non-oil imports, which have increased at an average annual rate of only 0.1 percent. This is in sharp contrast to the pattern in the five quarters preceding the second quarter of 2015, when real non-oil imports were growing at an annualized rate of 8 percent per quarter. The timing of the weakness in import growth is particularly puzzling in light of the strong U.S. dollar, which appreciated 12 percent in 2015, ...
What's behind volatile import prices from China?
In a sharp departure from earlier trends, the price of U.S. imports from China rose 6 percent in the 2006-08 period. To explore the forces behind this surprising increase, the authors create a new import index that uses highly disaggregated data to track price developments in different product types. The index reveals that the largest price increases were concentrated in industrial supplies - goods that rely heavily on commodity inputs. The authors conclude that the surge in commodity prices through mid-2008 was the primary driver of the rising import prices from China.
How did China’s WTO entry benefit U.S. prices?
We analyze the effects of China?s rapid export expansion following World Trade Organization (WTO) entry on U.S. prices, exploiting cross-industry variation in trade liberalization. Lower input tariffs boosted Chinese firms? productivity, lowered costs, and, in conjunction with reduced U.S. tariff uncertainty, expanded export participation. We find that China?s WTO entry significantly reduced variety-adjusted U.S. manufacturing price indexes between 2000 and 2006. For the Chinese components of these indexes, one-third of the beneficial impact comes from Chinese exporters lowering their prices, ...
What Drives International Bank Credit?
A major question facing policymakers is how to deal with slumps in bank credit. The policy prescriptions are very different depending on whether the decline is a result of global forces, domestic demand, or supply problems in a particular banking system. We present findings from new research that exactly decompose the growth in banks? aggregate foreign credit into these three factors. Using global banking data for the period 2000-16, we uncover some striking patterns in bilateral credit relationships between consolidated banking systems and borrowers in more than 200 countries. The most ...
Why Hasn't the Yen Depreciation Spurred Japanese Exports?
The Japanese yen depreciated 30 percent from its peak in the fourth quarter of 2011 against its trading partners. This was expected to boost its exports as the lower yen makes Japanese goods more competitive on global markets. Instead, the volume of Japanese exports of goods actually fell by 0.6 percent over this same period, as can be seen in the chart below. Weaker external demand surely contributed to this poor export performance. Yet over the same period, U.S. goods exports grew by more than 6 percent, which suggests that other factors are also at play. In this post, we draw on our recent ...