The Impact of Regional Isolationism: Disentangling Real and Financial Factors
Recently, there is a pressure for isolation policies both within the United States and among the EU members. The pressure arises due not only to the difference between regions in the U.S. and/or countries in the EU, but also to the difference across their population which affect the gains and losses from economic integration, both real as from trade in a common market and financial as in a monetary financial union. To get a better understanding of this pressure, one would need a model of trade and capital flows that takes into account the difference between individuals in a region and differences across regions. There is also a need for detail data at the individual and aggregated level, which often are not available. In this paper, we use unique long-panel data of households in Thailand, and from these data, we construct the household financial accounts, the village economic accounts, and the village balance of payments account. We also provide stylized facts on factor prices, factor intensities, financial obstacles, and village openness document differences across regions. Finally at the national level it is clear there is co-mingled variation in trade via devaluations and in finance via policies toward off shore bank and within-country financial infrastructure.
We develop a heterogeneous-agent/occupational-choices/trade model with financial frictions carefully built up and calibrated around micro and regional facts, that is, at both the individual level and the aggregate level. Then, we conduct two counterfactual policy experiments. In the first counterfactual experiment, we distinguish the effects of trade from the effects of capital flows. More specifically, we determine what would happen if we allow the prices of goods to change as in baseline scenario while keep borrowing limits and interest rates constant, and vice versa. In the second counterfactual experiment, we determine the effect of isolation policies that impede trade and/or capital flows across regions. We find through these counterfactual experiments that both real and financial factors are at play, that there are differences across regions in impact even when (policy) movements in variables such as interest rates and relative prices, which are exogenous to the regions, are common; impacts can be large, and vary with policy; and impacts are significant heterogeneous with both gains and losses and non-monotone movement across wealth classes and occupations, even allowing for occupation shifts which apriori might have mitigated impact.
The Impact of Imperfect Financial Integration and Trade on Macroeconomic Volatility and Welfare in Emerging Markets
This study examines how international integration impacts macroeconomic volatility and welfare in emerging market economies (EMEs), employing a two-country real business cycle model with constrained cross-border borrowing and imperfect access to international financial market. Parameter calibration employs 2000-2013 trade and external debt data from EMEs. The simulation shows that higher foreign debt raises output volatility, slightly reduces consumption volatility of entrepreneurs who can borrow abroad, and brings about welfare loss due to higher debt interest payments and less consumption. Households who can only save in domestic markets are largely unaffected. Restricted financial integration does not have much adverse impact when people face no other frictions domestically, suggesting the importance of domestic financial development. Higher international trade tends to be favorable for output variability, consumption smoothing, and welfare, but does not play a significant role on how cross-border borrowing affects macroeconomic volatility. The results suggest that the impacts of financial and trade integration are generally independent. It might be difficult for EMEs to achieve evident gains from greater financial integration even with high trade intensity when market imperfection exists. Increasing only trade or both types of integration together can be Pareto improving that lowers aggregate fluctuation, whereas increasing only private external debt is not.
Structural Transformation in Thailand: A Perspective Through Product Innovation
This paper examines Thailand’s economic development through the perspective of structural transformation. Building on the insight that the products that a country exports tells much about the country’s underlying capabilities, we study Thailand’s evolving product structure both at the aggregate country level as well as at the firm level. We show that over the last 30 years, the diversification of Thailand’s product structure has been impressive, with important footholds being established in many well-connected and increasingly sophisticated products. This positive overall picture, however, masks potentially serious distributional problems. The number of firms and the number of provinces that are actively engaged in and contributing materially to Thailand’s product upgrading are highly concentrated. This may be limiting the gains to the economy more broadly. We confirm the importance of existing product structures at the country, regional, and firm levels for the evolution of firms’ product structure over time. That is, the current basket of goods produced by firms, regions, and the country affect firms’ decision over which products to introduce and which ones to drop. This path-dependent nature of product innovation has important implications for policy.
Assessing the Importance of Taxation on FDI: Evidence from South-East Asian Developing Countries
This study examines the influence of taxation on FDI using data from South-East Asia. It employs the quantile regression approach with fixed effects that provides a comprehensive view of the tax sensitivity across the FDI distribution. Estimates confirm the significantly negative impact of the bilateral effective average tax rate but its effect is heterogeneous across the distribution. This stresses the importance of understanding the effect of taxation across the distribution rather than only at the mean. Also, the economic significance of the tax is relatively smaller than that of other fundamental factors such as labor quality and governance.
Heterogeneous Exporters’ Responses to Trade Liberalization in a Two-Dimensional Product Space
Multiproduct firms are responsible for the majority of the global trade network. The majority of studies on multiproduct firms that incorporate the notion of core competency – the idea that a firm is more efficient in some products than others – find success in explaining observed empirical patterns. However, because products in these models are represented on a one dimensional interval, the models are unable to capture the fact that products are inherently hierarchical and multidimensional. This paper proposes a way to extend the concept of core competency into a two-dimensional space with an introduction of industries. This allows for a richer prediction on the exporters’ responses to a reduction in trade cost. In particular, the differential responses of large and small firms depend on the convexity of the cost function. Using a novel dataset on Thai exporters’ responses to Vietnam’s tariff reductions in 2001-2008, I find that while all exporters respond to foreign tariff reduction on the intensive margin, they respond differently on the extensive margin. While large firms tend to introduce products within the industry they already have presence in, small firms tend to start exporting products in new industries. This suggests that the cost curve is concave in the product dimension, but is convex in the industry dimension.
Trade, Wage Premia and Labor Shortages
Recent trade theories with heterogeneous firms build upon labor market frictions and search to generate rent sharing between firms and their employees and workforce adjustments following trade liberalization. However, little empirical attention has been paid to potential labor shortages. Using firm-level vacancy data from Thailand’s manufacturing sector for 2003-2006, I construct the ratios of vacancies to employment to measure the extent of labor shortages across firms. I find that a cut in input tariffs raises not only wages at firms that use imported intermediates, but also their vacancies to employment ratios relative to firms that only source inputs locally. Importantly, firms with high vacancies to employment ratios pay higher wages, and even more so for importers of intermediate inputs. This evidence is consistent with the hypothesis that labor shortages constitute one empirically documentable mechanism by which importing firms pay higher wages: they search more intensively for workers, suffer more from hiring constraints, and hence increase their wage offers to raise adequately skilled employment following input tariff cuts.
Dissecting Thailand’s International Trade: Evidence from 88 Million Export and Import Entries
With a trade-to-GDP ratio of over 130 percent, Thailand is one of the most open emerging market economies in the world. Through a transactional-level database of over 88 million customs entries, this paper provides a comprehensive picture of the dynamic evolution of Thai international trade, highlighting both the intensive as well as extensive margins. Focusing on exports and exporting firms, we document the highly concentrated, specialized and fragile nature of export activity.