This paper develops a multi-stage general-equilibrium model of global value chains (GVCs) and studies the specialization of countries within GVCs in a world with barriers to international trade. With costly trade, the optimal location of production of a given stage in a GVC is not only a function of the marginal cost at which that stage can be produced in a given country, but is also shaped by the proximity of that location to the precedent and the subsequent desired locations of production. We show that, other things equal, it is optimal to locate relatively downstream stages of production in relatively central locations. We also develop and estimate a tractable, quantifiable version of our model that illustrates how changes in trade costs affect the extent to which various countries participate in domestic, regional or global value chains, and traces the real income consequences of these changes.
We exploit plausibly exogenous geographical variation in the reduction in domestic demand caused by the Great Recession in Spain to document the existence of a robust, within-firm negative causal relationship between demand-driven changes in domestic sales and export flows. Spanish manufacturing firms whose domestic sales were reduced by more during the crisis observed a larger increase in their export flows, even after controlling for firms' supply determinants (such as labor costs). This negative relationship between demand-driven changes in domestic sales and changes in export flows illustrates the capacity of export markets to counteract the negative impact of local demand shocks. We rationalize our findings through a standard heterogeneous-firm model of exporting expanded to allow for non-constant marginal costs of production. Using a structurally estimated version of this model, we conclude that the firm-level responses to the slump in domestic demand in Spain could well have accounted for around one-half of the spectacular increase in Spanish goods exports (the so-called `Spanish export miracle') over the period 2009-13.
This paper characterizes the transitional dynamics of the savings rate in the neoclassical growth model. I start with a general formulation with weak assumptions on preferences and technology and go on to fully describe the transitional behavior of the savings rate under particular functional forms. It is shown that under plausible functional forms for preferences and technology, the model is able to explain the hump-shaped behavior of the savings rate observed in most OECD countries in the period 1950-1990. The paper also provides econometric evidence supporting the empirical relevance of the neoclassical growth model in explaining the dynamics of the savings rate both in OECD countries and in a larger cross-section of countries.