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.
Did Trade Finance Contribute to the Global Trade Collapse?
The financial crisis of 2008-09 brought about one of the largest collapses in world trade since the end of World War II. Between the first quarter of 2008 and the first quarter of 2009, the value of real global GDP fell 4.6 percent while exports plummeted 17 percent, as can be seen in the chart below. The dramatic decline in world trade—a loss of $761 billion in nominal exports—came through two channels: decreased demand for imports and supply effects, most likely arising from financial constraints. In this post, we look at evidence that supply effects, including curtailed funding for ...
Consumer Goods from China Are Getting More Expensive
We find that, in a sharp reversal of earlier trends, U.S. import prices for consumer goods shipped from China have been rising rapidly in recent quarters—by 7 percent between 2010:Q2 and 2011:Q1. In this post, we track U.S. import price movements in Chinese goods in different product categories by creating an import index that uses highly disaggregated data. We also consider the likely causes of the recent rise in prices for consumer goods. If these price hikes persist, they could have important consequences for U.S. businesses and consumers because China is the largest single supplier of ...
China’s Impact on U.S. Inflation
U.S. import prices of consumer goods shipped from China have been moderating in recent quarters, following an upward surge of 11 percent between mid-2010 and the end of 2011. These price changes have far-reaching consequences for U.S. businesses and consumers, because China is the largest single supplier of imports to the United States, accounting for more than 20 percent of nonoil imports and more than 30 percent of consumer goods. In this post, we track U.S. import price movements in different product categories from China by constructing import price indexes that use highly disaggregated ...
The Exchange Rate Disconnect
Why do large movements in exchange rates have small effects on international goods prices? This empirical regularity is a central puzzle in international macroeconomics. In a new study, we show that the key to understanding this exchange rate disconnect is to take into account that the largest exporters are also the largest importers. This is important because when exporters import their intermediate inputs, they face offsetting exchange rate effects on their marginal costs. For example, a depreciation of the euro relative to the U.S. dollar makes exports in U.S. dollars cheaper?but it also ...
Does Import Competition Improve the Quality of Domestic Goods?
Firms must produce high-quality goods to be competitive in international markets, but how do they transition from producing low- to high-quality goods? In a new study (?Import Competition and Quality Upgrading,? forthcoming in the Review of Economics and Statistics), we focus on how tougher import competition affects firms? decisions to upgrade the quality of their goods. Our results, which we summarize in this post, show that stiffer import competition affects quality-upgrading decisions. For firms already producing very high-quality goods, lower tariffs induce them to produce goods of even ...
Do Bank Shocks Affect Aggregate Investment?
Traditionally, we have thought of the fates of specific banks as perhaps symptomatic of problems in the financial market but not as causal determinants of fluctuations in aggregate investment and other real economic activity. However, the high level of bank concentration in much of the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) means that large amounts of lending are channeled through a small number of institutions that are no longer small even in comparison to the largest economies. Consequently, problems in a few large institutions could potentially have a large impact on ...
Will the United States Benefit from the Trans-Pacific Partnership?
U.S. involvement in what could be one of the world?s largest free trade agreements, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), has garnered a lot of attention, especially since the entry of Japan into negotiations last year. The proposed free trade agreement (FTA) encompasses twelve countries, which combined account for 45 percent of U.S. exports and 37 percent of U.S. imports. This broad coverage of U.S. trade seems to suggest large potential gains for the U.S. from the agreement. However, three quarters of this trade is already within the U.S. free trade agreement with Canada and Mexico (the ...
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 ...
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 ...