Williamson_3e_IM_13 - Chapter 13 International Trade in...

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Chapter 13 International Trade in Goods and Assets ± Teaching Goals There are two basic aspects to international trade. Trade in goods and services allows a nation to benefit from comparative advantage. In the absence of trade, competitive markets allow the economy to reach a Pareto optimum. At this optimum, the marginal rate of substitution for consumers is equal to the marginal rate of transformation in production. These marginal rates are reflected in market prices. If we open up an economy to trade, the country can improve its welfare as long as closed economy relative prices differ from the relative prices in the rest of the world. It does not matter in which direction this difference works. In either case, the representative consumer can reach an indifference curve that lies beyond the one reached in the absence of trade. This is the essence of gains to trade. The second aspect of trade involves trade in financial assets. A closed economy is required to exactly exhaust its total output in each period between consumption, investment, and government spending. An open economy can use either more or less than the output it produces in each period. Differences between production and absorption can occur when the current account is either in surplus or deficit. A common misimpression for students is to think of the current account balance as reflecting competition for sales by firms in different countries. A better insight into the current account balance comes from considering the additional option for consumption smoothing that comes from borrowing and lending activities with those in other countries. One clear case for the benefits of running a current account deficit is for a country that wants to increase its capital stock more quickly than would be possible in the absence of foreign borrowing. ± Classroom Discussion Topics Support for protectionist trade policies comes to the forefront from time to time. Ask students for arguments they have heard that rationalize tariffs or quotas. Ask them if they support such policies, or find the reasons given for protectionist sentiment compelling. What does fair trade as opposed to free trade mean? Guide them in the direction of finding market failures in international trade. Distinctions between free and fair trade only have meaning if there is monopoly power in the markets for traded goods, or if there are externalities that are complicated by the differing rules of different sovereign nations. Monopoly power may be involved in the steel and automotive industries. Is this a concern for students? Trade protection is also proposed because other nations have more lax environmental restrictions. Don’t we benefit from the decision of other countries to specialize in dirty industries?
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This note was uploaded on 03/03/2010 for the course ECON 1001 taught by Professor Donaldberry during the Spring '09 term at UCL.

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Williamson_3e_IM_13 - Chapter 13 International Trade in...

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