NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Trade Booms, Trade Busts, and Trade Costs

David S. Jacks, Christopher M. Meissner, Dennis Novy

NBER Working Paper No. 15267
Issued in August 2009
NBER Program(s):   DAE

What has driven trade booms and trade busts in the past and present? We derive a micro-founded measure of trade frictions from leading trade theories and use it to gauge the importance of bilateral trade costs in determining international trade flows. We construct a new balanced sample of bilateral trade flows for 130 country pairs across the Americas, Asia, Europe, and Oceania for the period from 1870 to 2000 and demonstrate an overriding role for declining trade costs in the pre-World War I trade boom. In contrast, for the post-World War II trade boom we identify changes in output as the dominant force. Finally, the entirety of the interwar trade bust is explained by increases in trade costs.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w15267

Published: “Trade Booms, Trade Busts and Trade Costs” (2011) Journal of International Economics Vol. 83 (2), pp. 185-201

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