The Effect of Exchange Rate Shocks on Domestic Prices
Changes in exchange rates directly affect import prices. Since the beginning of 2014, the U.S. dollar has strengthened by 17 percent against the currencies of its major trading partners while import prices have fallen by 4 percent. The pass-through from exchange rates into import prices in the United States is estimated to be quite low, at around 30 percent, and this is often attributed to the fact that imports are mostly invoiced in U.S. dollars. In addition to this direct impact of exchange rates on import prices, there can also be an effect on domestic prices. Suppose that a stronger U.S. dollar means that cars imported from Japan will be cheaper for U.S. consumers. If domestic auto producers do not then reduce their U.S. prices they could lose market share. By how much do they adjust their prices? In this post, we draw on a new study??International Shocks and Domestic Prices: How Large Are Strategic Complementarities???that uses micro-level data for Belgian firms to shed light on this question.
AUTHORS: Konings, Jozef; Itskhoki, Oleg; Amiti, Mary
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, lowering the price of imported goods relative to domestically produced goods. The trajectory for imports can affect the variety of goods consumed in the United States and could, if it is evolving independently, have implications for overall economic growth. To understand the consequences of lower import growth, it is important to understand what is behind this recent trend. In this blog post, we explore what has been driving the recent slump in U.S. imports of non-oil goods.
AUTHORS: Amiti, Mary; Lewis, Logan T.; Bodine-Smith, Tyler; Hottman, Colin
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 response from other countries. As the proposed tax is effectively equivalent to an import tax combined with an export subsidy, it is possible that there could be retaliation from other countries in the form of taxes on U.S. exports or litigation with the World Trade Organization. If the U.S. dollar does not appreciate by the full amount of the tax, we argue that the effect of the tax will be to lower both U.S. imports and exports in the short to medium run.
AUTHORS: Itskhoki, Oleg; Konings, Jozef; Amiti, Mary
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 could reach their bound rates, which average 35 percent. In contrast, U.S. bound rates average only 4 percent. At the very least, U.S. exporters would be subject to a higher level of policy uncertainty without the trade agreement.
AUTHORS: Amiti, Mary; Freund, Caroline L.
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 trade is part of global supply chains.
AUTHORS: Amiti, Mary; Bodine-Smith, Tyler; Freund, Caroline L.
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 important we term the ?Anna Karenina Principle? of global banking: all healthy credit relationships behave alike; each unhealthy credit relationship is unhealthy in its own way.
AUTHORS: Amiti, Mary; McGuire, Patrick M.; Weinstein, David E.
Will New Steel Tariffs Protect U.S. Jobs?
President Trump announced a new tariff of 25 percent on steel imports and 10 percent on aluminum imports on March 8, 2018. One objective of these tariffs is to protect jobs in the U.S. steel industry. They were introduced under a rarely used 1962 Act, which allows the government to impose trade barriers for national security reasons. Although the tariffs were initially to apply to all trading partners, Canada and Mexico are currently exempt subject to NAFTA negotiations, and implementation of the tariffs for the European Union, Argentina, Australia, and Brazil has been paused. South Korea has received a permanent exemption from the steel tariffs and will instead be subject to a quota of 70 percent of its current average steel exports to the United States. In this post, we consider how the steel tariffs could affect U.S. trade and employment. We focus on steel since the steel industry employs about three times as many workers as the aluminum industry, although qualitatively our conclusions apply to both. We argue that the new tariffs are likely to lead to a net loss in U.S. employment, at least in the short to medium run.
AUTHORS: Amiti, Mary; Noah Kwicklis ; Heise, Sebastian
Do Import Tariffs Help Reduce Trade Deficits?
Import tariffs are on the rise in the UnitedStates, with a long list of new tariffs imposed in the last few months?25percent on steel imports, 10percent on aluminum, and 25percent on $50billion of goods from China?and possibly more to come. One of the objectives of these new tariffs is to reduce the U.S.trade deficit, which stood at $568.4 billion in 2017 (2.9percent of GDP). The fact that the United States imports far more than it exports is viewed by some as unfair, so the idea is to try to reduce the amount that the nation imports from the rest of the world. While more costly imports are likely to reduce the quantity and value of imports into the UnitedStates, the story does not stop there, because we cannot presume that the value of exports will remain unchanged. In this post, we argue that U.S.exports will also fall, not only because of other countries? retaliatory tariffs on U.S.exports, but also because the costs for U.S.firms producing goods for export will rise and make U.S.exports less competitive on the world market. The end result is likely to be lower imports and lower exports, with little or no improvement in the trade deficit.
AUTHORS: Feenstra, Robert C.; Dai, Mi; Amiti, Mary; Romalis, John
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.
AUTHORS: Heise, Sebastian; Amiti, Mary; Noah Kwicklis
New China Tariffs Increase Costs to U.S. Households
Tariffs on $200 billion of U.S. imports from China subject to earlier 10 percent levies increased to 25 percent beginning May 10, 2019, after a breakdown in trade negotiations. In this post, we consider the cost of these higher tariffs to the typical U.S. household.
AUTHORS: Amiti, Mary; Weinstein, David E.; Stephen J. Redding