Essays on international trade and financial developmen[t]

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Date

2010-05

Authors

Raei, Faezeh

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The first chapter studies the effects of financial obstacles to productivity improvement in the context of trade reforms, by constructing a dynamic heterogeneous firms model with financial frictions. Trade reforms are considered beneficial because they confront the liberalized country’s firms with more competition from abroad and increase their incentives to become more efficient. This implies that if poor countries do not improve their productivities they might lose the intended gains from liberalization. Financial frictions however have been quoted an important obstacle for firms to improve their productivities. To address these issues, first, using data on 15 trade liberalization episodes, I document that more financially developed countries experienced more productivity growth after their trade liberalization. Second, I construct a dynamic heterogeneous firms model with financial frictions in financing costs for productivity improvement. Calibrated numerical exercises show that if a country does not improve its financial intermediaries at the outset of trade liberalization it may lose as much as %40 of potential output gains and productivity improvements. The result has policy implications regarding the simultaneous reforms in trade and financial intermediaries.

The Second chapter is a cross country empirical analysis aiming to provide evidence for the effects of trade openness and financial development on firms decision to upgrade their technology and the impact on the distribution of firm size across countries. The idea is that reduction of trade barriers is likely to affect incentives of bigger firms to grow to export markets as well as incentives of smaller firms to innovate due to increased competition. Financial frictions, however are likely to limit the scope of these decisions and more so for smaller firms and capital intensive industries. This is likely to have heterogeneous effects on firms leading to changes in firm size distribution. I hypothesize that a combination of trade openness and low financial development increases the relative size of big to smaller firms. To test this hypothesis, I take advantage of cross country/industry differences in trade protection and financial development/needs to provide enough variation for identifying these effects. Using establishment level data from OECD countries, I provide evidence for this hypothesis, by performing double difference estimations. In addition using firm level data on 20,000 firms from World Bank’s enterprise survey, I provide more evidence that trade openness promotes productivity growth particularly for bigger firms in less financially developed countries. The finding contributes to the literature on importance of finance for firm growth by focusing on the channel of heightened competition due to trade. It highlights the importance of incorporating financial aspects of a country in trade analysis.

The third chapter is an exercise exploring the welfare gains of trade in a North-South trade where counties are asymmetric in their ability to produce more sophisticated goods. The exercise is based on the model by Matsuyama (JPE 2000), where the world is a static Ricardian model with a continuum of goods and unit demand non-homothetic preferences. One country (the south) has comparative advantage in production of goods with lower income elasticity of demand. As a result, over time with uniform global improvement in technology in the form of smaller unit labor requirements, the terms of trade moves against south. The numerical exercise, calibrates stochastic interpretation of the model to for a specific choice of countries and provides evidence that over time, if the patterns of specializations are not changed drastically, the country specialized in production of less sophisticated goods disproportionately grows less than the other one and has the terms of trade moving against it.

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