Openness, Volatility and the Risk Content of Exports
Julian di Giovanni
Andrei A. Levchenko
It has been observed that more open countries experience higher output growth volatility. This paper uses an industry-level panel dataset of manufacturing production and trade to analyze the
mechanisms through which trade can affect the volatility of production. We find that sectors with higher trade are more volatile and that trade leads to increased specialization. These two forces act to increase overall volatility. We also find that sectors which are more open to trade are less correlated with the rest of the economy, an effect that acts to reduce aggregate volatility. The point estimates indicate that each of the three effects has an appreciable impact on aggregate volatility. Added together they imply that a one standard deviation change in trade openness is associated with an increase in aggregate volatility of about 15% of the mean volatility observed in the data. The results are also used to provide estimates of the welfare cost of increased volatility under several sets of assumptions. We then propose a summary measure
of the riskiness of a country's pattern of export specialization, and analyze its features across countries and over time. There is a great deal of variation in countries' risk content of exports, but it does not have a simple relationship to the level of income or other country characteristics
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