In what order should a developing country adopt policy reforms? Do some policies complement each other? Do others substitute for each other? To address these questions, we develop a two-country dynamic general equilibrium model with entry and exit of firms that are monopolistic competitors. Distortions in the model include barriers to entry of firms, barriers to international trade, and barriers to contract enforcement. We find that a reform that reduces one of these distortions has different effects depending on the other distortions present. In particular, reforms to trade barriers and barriers to the entry of new firms are substitutable, as are reforms to contract enforcement and trade barriers. In contrast, reforms to contract enforcement and the barriers to entry are complementary. Finally, the optimal sequencing of reforms requires reforming trade barriers before contract enforcement.
International trade is frequently thought of as a production technology in which the inputs are exports and the outputs are imports. Exports are transformed into imports at the rate of the price of exports relative to the price of imports: the reciprocal of the terms of trade. Cast this way, a change in the terms of trade acts as a productivity shock. Or does it? In this paper, we show that this line of reasoning cannot work in standard models. Starting with a simple model and then generalizing, we show that changes in the terms of trade have no first-order effect on productivity when output is measured as chain-weighted real GDP. The terms of trade do affect real income and consumption in a country, and we show how measures of real income change with the terms of trade at business cycle frequencies and during financial crises.
We propose a methodology for studying changes in bilateral commodity trade due to goods not exported previously or exported only in small quantities. Using a panel of 1,900 country pairs, we find that increased trade of these “least-traded goods” is an important factor in trade growth. This extensive margin accounts for 10 percent of the growth in trade for NAFTA country pairs, for example, and 26 percent in trade between the United States and Chile, China, and Korea. Looking at country pairs with no major trade policy change or structural change, however, we find little change in the extensive margin.