Panel Paper: Export Flows and Global Shocks

Friday, November 9, 2012 : 10:45 AM
Mencken (Sheraton Baltimore City Center Hotel)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Fariha Kamal and Cornell J Krizan, Center for Economic Studies, US Census Bureau

A pervasive finding in the job flows literature is that job creation and destruction rates can be surprisingly high, particularly for the non-manufacturing sector.  During recessions job destruction rates skyrocket, largely due to deaths of older, larger plants.  By contrast, export shipment flows have received much less systematic attention. Recent research in international trade finds that one-time exporting is common but export volumes grow through the increased activity of continuing exporters.  A growing body of work also indicates that the decline in demand for durable goods accounted for the majority of the decline in trade volume during the recent global recession and trade collapse.  However, little more is known about the dimensions along which changes in export volumes occur, particularly during shocks such as the Asian Financial Crisis or the “great recession”. 

We use detailed transaction-level trade data to decompose annual aggregate export flows into positive (export creation), negative (export destruction) and net changes between 1992 and 2009.  We further decompose the positive and negative rates of change into entrants (firm births, new exporters, and re-starters) and exiters (firm deaths, permanent stoppers, and temporary stoppers) respectively.  We find that export flows decline during recessions due to changes in both positive and negative flows.  More generally, within the exit margin, firm deaths, not stoppers, account for the largest share of decreases in aggregate export flows. Within the entry margin, continuing firms that are new to exporting account for the largest share of increases in aggregate exports. Finally, we document how these patterns change across dimensions such as firm size, firm age, industry, commodity traded, and destination country characteristics, particularly during the last recession and export collapse.