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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
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
Trade Policy Uncertainty May Affect the Organization of Firms’ Supply Chains
Global trade policy uncertainty has increased significantly, largely because of a changing tariff regime between the United States and China. In this blog post, we argue that trade policy can have a significant effect on firms? organization of supply chains. When the probability of a trade war rises, firms become less likely to form long-term, just-in-time relationships with foreign suppliers, which may lead to higher costs and welfare losses for consumers. Our research shows that even in the absence of actual tariff changes, an increased likelihood of a trade war can significantly distort U.S. imports.
AUTHORS: Heise, Sebastian; Pierce, Justin R.; Schaur, Georg; Schott, Peter K.
Spatial Wage Gaps and Frictional Labor Markets
We develop a job-ladder model with labor reallocation across firms and space, which we design to leverage matched employer-employee data to study differences in wages and labor productivity across regions. We apply our framework to data from Germany: twenty-five years after the reunification, real wages in the East are still 26 percent lower than those in the West. We find that 60 percent of the wage gap is due to labor being paid a higher wage per efficiency unit in West Germany, and quantify three distinct barriers that prevent East Germans from migrating west to obtain a higher wage: migration costs, workers' preferences to live in their home region, and more frequent job opportunities received from home. Interpreting the data as a frictional labor market, we estimate that these spatial barriers to mobility are small, which implies that the spatial misallocation of workers between East and West Germany has at most moderate aggregate effects.
AUTHORS: Heise, Sebastian; Porzio, Tommaso
Firm-to-Firm Relationships and the Pass-Through of Shocks: Theory and Evidence
Economists have long suspected that firm-to-firm relationships might lower the responsiveness of prices to shocks due to the use of fixed-price contracts. Using transaction-level U.S. import data, I show that the pass-through of exchange rate shocks in fact rises as a relationship grows older. Based on novel stylized facts about a relationship?s life cycle, I develop a model of relationship dynamics in which a buyer-seller pair accumulates relationship capital to lower production costs under limited commitment. The structurally estimated model generates countercyclical markups and countercyclical pass-through of shocks through variation in the economy?s rate of relationship creation, which falls in recessions.
AUTHORS: Heise, Sebastian