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Nonlinear Aspects of Goods-Market Arbitrage and Adjustment: Heckscher's Commodity Points Revisited

48 Pages Posted: 20 Jul 2000  

Maurice Obstfeld

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

Alan M. Taylor

University of California, Davis - Department of Economics; University of Virginia - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Date Written: June 1997

Abstract

We propose that analysis of purchasing power parity (PPP) and the law of one price (LOOP) should explicitly take into account the possibility of commodity points' thresholds delineating a region of no central tendency among relative prices, possibly due to lack of perfect arbitrage in the presence of transaction costs and uncertainty. More than eighty years ago, Heckscher stressed the importance of such incomplete arbitrage in the empirical application of PPP. We devise an econometric method to identify commodity points. Price adjustment is treated as a nonlinear process, and a threshold autoregression (TAR) offers a parsimonious specification within which both thresholds and adjustment speeds are estimated by maximum likelihood methods. Our model performs well using post-1980 data reasonable: adjustment outside the thresholds might imply half-lives of price deviations measured in months rather than years and the thresholds correspond to popular rough estimates as to the order of magnitude of actual transport costs. The estimated commodity points appear to be positively related to objective measures of market segmentation, notably nominal exchange rate volatility.

Suggested Citation

Obstfeld, Maurice and Taylor, Alan M., Nonlinear Aspects of Goods-Market Arbitrage and Adjustment: Heckscher's Commodity Points Revisited (June 1997). NBER Working Paper No. w6053. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=226463

Maurice Obstfeld (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Economics ( email )

549 Evans Hall #3880
Berkeley, CA 94720-3880
United States
510-643-9646 (Phone)
510-642-6615 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://emlab.berkeley.edu/users/obstfeld/

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Alan M. Taylor

University of California, Davis - Department of Economics ( email )

One Shields Drive
Davis, CA 95616-8578
United States
530-752-1572 (Phone)
530-752-9382 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.econ.ucdavis.edu/faculty/amtaylor/

University of Virginia - Department of Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 400182
Charlottesville, VA 22904-4182
United States
(434)-924-3177 (Phone)
(434)-982-2904 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://people.virginia.edu/~amt7u

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

HOME PAGE: http://nber.org

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

77 Bastwick Street
London, EC1V 3PZ
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://cepr.org

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