Country Size, International Trade, and Aggregate Fluctuations in Granular Economies

54 Pages Posted: 29 Aug 2011

See all articles by Julian di Giovanni

Julian di Giovanni

Federal Reserve Banks - Federal Reserve Bank of New York; Universitat Pompeu Fabra - Department of Economics and Business; Barcelona Graduate School of Economics (Barcelona GSE); CREI and Universitat Pompeu Fabra; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Andrei A. Levchenko

University of Michigan - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Date Written: August 2011

Abstract

This paper proposes a new mechanism by which country size and international trade affect macroeconomic volatility. We study a multi-country, multi-sector model with heterogeneous firms that are subject to idiosyncratic firm-specific shocks. When the distribution of firm sizes follows a power law with an exponent close to -1, the idiosyncratic shocks to large firms have an impact on aggregate output volatility. We explore the quantitative properties of the model calibrated to data for the 50 largest economies in the world. Smaller countries have fewer firms, and thus higher volatility. The model performs well in matching this pattern both qualitatively and quantitatively: the rate at which macroeconomic volatility decreases in country size in the model is very close to what is found in the data. Opening to trade increases the importance of large firms to the economy, thus raising macroeconomic volatility. Our simulation exercise shows that the contribution of trade to aggregate fluctuations depends strongly on country size: in the largest economies in the world, such as the U.S. or Japan, international trade increases volatility by only 1.5-3.5%. By contrast, trade increases aggregate volatility by some 15-20% in a small open economy, such as Denmark or Romania.

Suggested Citation

di Giovanni, Julian and Levchenko, Andrei A., Country Size, International Trade, and Aggregate Fluctuations in Granular Economies (August 2011). NBER Working Paper No. w17335, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1918665

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Federal Reserve Banks - Federal Reserve Bank of New York ( email )

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CREI and Universitat Pompeu Fabra ( email )

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Andrei A. Levchenko

University of Michigan - Department of Economics ( email )

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

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Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) ( email )

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