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Estimating Unequal Gains across U.S. Consumers with Supplier Trade Data
Using supplier-level trade data, we estimate the effect on consumer welfare from changes in U.S. imports both in the aggregate and for different household income groups from 1998 to 2014. To do this, we use consumer preferences which feature non-homotheticity both within sectors and across sectors. After structurally estimating the parameters of the model, using the universe of U.S. goods imports, we construct import price indexes in which a variety is defined as a foreign establishment producing an HS10 product that is exported to the United States. We find that lower income households experienced the most import price inflation, while higher income households experienced the least import price inflation during our time period. Thus, we do not find evidence that the consumption channel has mitigated the distributional effects of trade that have occurred through the nominal income channel in the United States over the past two decades.
AUTHORS: Hottman, Colin; Monarch, Ryan
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