NBER Working Papers and Publications
|May 2016||Volatility and the Gains from Trade|
with David Atkin: w22276
By reducing the negative correlation between local prices and productivity shocks, trade liberalization changes the volatility of returns. In this paper, we explore the second moment effects of trade. Using forty years of agricultural micro-data from India, we show that falling trade costs increased farmer's revenue volatility, causing farmers to shift production toward crops with less risky yields. We then characterize how volatility affects farmer's crop allocation using a portfolio choice framework where returns are determined in general equilibrium by a many-location, many-good Ricardian trade model with flexible trade costs. Finally, we structurally estimate the model—recovering farmers' unobserved risk-return preferences from the gradient of the mean-variance frontier at their observ...
|December 2014||Universal Gravity|
with Costas Arkolakis, Yuta Takahashi: w20787
What is the best way to reduce trade frictions when resources are scarce? To answer this question, we develop a framework that nests previous general equilibrium gravity models and show that the macro-economic implications of these various models depend crucially on two key model parameters, which we term the “gravity constants.” Based only on the value of the gravity constants, we derive sufficient conditions for the existence and uniqueness of the trade equilibrium and, given observed trade flows, completely characterize all comparative statics for any change in bilateral trade frictions. We then develop a methodology for estimating these gravity constants without needing to assume a particular micro-foundation of the gravity trade model. Finally, we use these results to derive the set o...
|June 2013||Trade and the Topography of the Spatial Economy|
with Costas Arkolakis: w19181
We develop a versatile general equilibrium framework to determine the spatial distribution of economic activity on any surface with (nearly) any geography. Combining the gravity structure of trade with labor mobility, we provide conditions for the existence, uniqueness, and stability of a spatial economic equilibrium and derive a simple set of differential equations which govern the relationship between economic activity and the geography of the surface. We then use the framework to estimate the topography of trade costs, productivities, amenities and the strength of spillovers in the United States. We find that geographic location accounts for 24% of the observed spatial distribution of income. Finally, we calculate that the construction of the interstate highway system increased welfare ...
Published: Treb Allen & Costas Arkolakis, 2014. "Trade and the Topography of the Spatial Economy," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 129(3), pages 1085-1140. citation courtesy of