Gopinath, Gita, and Oleg Itskhoki. 2011. “In Search of Real Rigidities.” NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2010. Vol. 25. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Publisher's Version Abstract

The closed and open economy literatures work on estimating real rigidities, but in parallel. We bring the two literatures together to shed light on this question. We use international price data and exchange rate shocks to evaluate the importance of real rigidities in price setting. We show that consistent with the presence of real rigidities the response of reset-price inflation to exchange rate shocks depicts significant persistence. Individual import prices, conditional on changing, respond to exchange rate shocks prior to the last price change. At the same time aggregate reset-price inflation for imports, like that for consumer prices, depicts little persistence. Competitors prices effect firm pricing and exchange rate pass-through into import prices are greater in response to trade-weighted as opposed to bilateral exchange rate changes. We quantitatively evaluate sticky price models (Calvo and menu cost) with variable markups at the wholesale level and constant markups at the retail level, consistent with empirical evidence. Variable markups alone generate sluggishness in price adjustment and increase the size of the contract multiplier, but their effects are modest.

Gopinath, Gita, Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas, Chang-Tai Hsieh, and Nicholas Li. 2011. “International Prices, Costs and Mark-up differences.” American Economic Review 101 (6): 2450–86. Publisher's Version Abstract
Relative cross-border retail prices, in a common currency, comove closely with the nominal exchange rate. Using product-level prices and wholesale costs from a grocery chain operating in the United States and Canada, we decompose this variation into relative costs and markup components. The high correlation of nominal and real exchange rates is driven mainly by changes in relative costs. National borders segment markets. Retail prices respond to changes in costs in neighboring stores within the same country but not across the border. Prices have a median discontinuous change of 24 percent at the border and 0 percent at state boundaries. (JEL F31, L11, L81)

Previously circulated under the title "Estimating the Border Effect: Some New Evidence".

Gopinath, Gita, Oleg Itskhoki, and Roberto Rigobon. 2010. “Currency Choice and Exchange Rate Pass-through.” American Economic Review 100 (1): 304-336. Publisher's Version Abstract

We show, using novel data on currency and prices for US imports, that even conditional on a price change, there is a large difference in the exchange rate pass-through of the average good priced in dollars (25 percent) versus nondollars (95 percent). We document this to be the case across countries and within disaggregated sectors. This finding contradicts the assumption in an important class of models that the currency of pricing is exogenous. We present a model of endogenous currency choice in a dynamic price setting environment and show that the predictions of the model are strongly supported by the data. (JEL E31, F14, F31)

Gopinath, Gita, and Oleg Itskhoki. 2010. “Frequency of Price Adjustment and Pass-through.” Quarterly Journal of Economics 125 (2): 675-727. Publisher's Version Abstract

We empirically document using U.S. import prices that on average goods with a high frequency of price adjustment have a long-run pass-through that is at least twice as high as that of low-frequency adjusters. We show theoretically that this relationship should follow because variable mark-ups that reduce long-run pass-through also reduce the curvature of the profit function when expressed as a function of the cost shocks, making the firm less willing to adjust its price. Lastly, we quantitatively evaluate a dynamic menu-cost model and show that the variable mark-up channel can generate significant variation in frequency, equivalent to 37% of the observed variation in the data. On the other hand the standard workhorse model with constant elasticity of demand and Calvo or state dependent pricing has difficulty matching the facts.

Aguiar, Mark, Manuel Amador, and Gita Gopinath. 2009. “Investment Cycles and Sovereign Debt Overhang.” Review of Economic Studies 76 (1): 1-31. Publisher's Version Abstract

We characterize optimal taxation of foreign capital and optimal sovereign debt policy in a small open economy where the government cannot commit to policy, seeks to insure a risk-averse domestic constituency, and is more impatient than the market. Optimal policy generates long-run cycles in both sovereign debt and foreign direct investment in an environment in which the first best capital stock is a constant. The expected tax on capital endogenously varies with the state of the economy, and investment is distorted by more in recessions than in booms, amplifying the effect of shocks. The government's lack of commitment induces a negative correlation between investment and the stock of government debt, a “debt overhang” effect. Debt relief is never Pareto improving and cannot affect the long-run level of investment. Furthermore, restricting the government to a balanced budget can eliminate the cyclical distortion of investment.

Aguiar, Mark, Manuel Amador, and Gita Gopinath. 2009. “Expropriation Dynamics.” American Economic Review 99 (2): 473-479. Publisher's Version
Gopinath, Gita, and Roberto Rigobon. 2008. “Sticky Borders.” Quarterly Journal of Economics 123 (2): 531-575. Publisher's Version Abstract

The stickiness and currency of pricing of traded goods play a central role in international macroeconomics; however, empirical evidence on these features is seriously limited. To address this, we use micro data on U.S. import and export prices at the dock for the period 1994–2005 and present four main results: First, the median price duration in the currency of pricing is 10.6 (12.8) months for imports (exports). Second, 90% (97%) of imports (exports) are priced in dollars. Consequently, contrary to standard modeling assumptions, for the United States, there is producer currency pricing in exports and local currency pricing in imports. Third, import price rigidity has increased by ten percentage points, with increasing rigidity in differentiated goods prices. Fourth, even conditioning on a price change, exchange rate pass-through into U.S. import prices is low, at 22%.

Gopinath, Gita. 2007. “Comment: Marcus Noland, South Korea's Experience with International Capital Flows.” Capital Controls and Capital Flows in Emerging Economies: Policies, Practices, and Consequences, edited by Sebastian Edwards, 525-528. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Publisher's Version
National Bureau of Economic Research Conference Report, Dec 16-18, 2004.

The topic of capital flows to emerging markets (henceforth EM) poses several questions. There is the question of why capital flows to EM's are so little, as in Lucas (1990), just as there is the concern that capital flows might be ‘too much’ as in Reinhart and Rogoff (2004). The precise costs and benefits to EM's in terms of international risk sharing, volatility of real variables, productivity spillovers, among others, are also points of debate (Aguiar and Gopinath, 2006 and Jeanne and Gourinchas, in press). This book, takes the level of capital flows as given and explores another important set of questions regarding the currency composition and maturity composition of borrowing by EM's—namely, why do EM's borrow mainly in a foreign currency and at short maturities. This book proposes an intriguing answer and an impressive amount of evidence. However, just as with the other questions, the debate remains unsettled and urges the need for further research.


Book review.

Aguiar, Mark, and Gita Gopinath. 2007. “Emerging Market Business Cycles: The Cycle is the Trend.” Journal of Political Economy 115 (1): 69-102. Publisher's Version Abstract

Emerging market business cycles exhibit strongly countercyclical current accounts, consumption volatility that exceeds income volatility, and “sudden stops” in capital inflows. These features contrast with developed small open economies. Nevertheless, we show that a standard model characterizes both types of markets. Motivated by the frequent policy regime switches observed in emerging markets, our premise is that these economies are subject to substantial volatility in trend growth. Our methodology exploits the information in consumption and net exports to identify the persistence of productivity. We find that shocks to trend growth—rather than transitory fluctuations around a stable trend—are the primary source of fluctuations in emerging markets. The key features of emerging market business cycles are then shown to be consistent with this underlying income process in an otherwise standard equilibrium model.

PDF Data used in the paper to compute business cycle statistics_1 Data used in the paper to compute business cycle statistics_2

Matlab code for program and data files attached.


In today’s times, the single most debated question in international policy circles is the fate of the U.S. dollar and the U.S current account. This book is a collection of essays on this debate. The papers were presented at a conference in Washington, D.C., on May 25, 2004, organized by the Institute for International Economics. The main questions that were asked at the time of the conference were the following: (1) How much further does the dollar need to depreciate? (2) Against which currencies does it need to depreciate? The general consensus among the authors is that there is a serious misalignment of key national currencies in the world. The main conclusion is that the dollar needs to decline by an additional 15 percent or so and most of this adjustment needs to take place against Asian currencies. This will require China to revalue its exchange rate against the dollar by around 20 percent.

Aguiar, Mark, and Gita Gopinath. 2006. “Defaultable Debt, Interest Rates and the Current Account.” Journal of International Economics 69 (1): 64-83. Publisher's Version Abstract

World capital markets have experienced large scale sovereign defaults on a number of occasions. In this paper we develop a quantitative model of debt and default in a small open economy. We use this model to match four empirical regularities regarding emerging markets: defaults occur in equilibrium, interest rates are countercyclical, net exports are countercyclical, and interest rates and the current account are positively correlated. We highlight the role of the stochastic trend in emerging markets, in an otherwise standard model with endogenous default, to match these facts.

PDF Matlab code for programs

Matlab code for programs attached.

Aguiar, Mark, and Gita Gopinath. 2006. “Emerging Market Fluctuations: The Role of Interest Rates and Productivity Shocks.” Tenth Annual Conference on the Central Bank of Chile, "Current Account and External Financing." Santiago, Chile: Central Bank of Chile. Abstract

In this paper we use a quantitative model to explore the potential frictions that distinguish emerging market business cycles from developed small open economies. Following Aguiar and Gopinath (2007) we allow total factor productivity (TFP) to have a stationary and an integrated component. We also allow for shocks to the consumption and investment Euler Equations that operate through the interest rate. These “wedges” represent changes in the intertemporal marginal rate of transformation, which may be due to changes in observed interest rates, unobserved borrowing constraints, or other financial frictions. We estimate the model using data from Mexico and Canada. We show that interest rate shocks orthogonal to domestic TFP fail to explain the behavior of emerging markets. We then allow for interest rates to respond to/co-vary with productivity shocks. We find that emerging market business cycles appear to be driven by large shocks to trend income combined with relatively small transitory shocks that co-vary with the interest rate.

Gopinath, Gita. 2005. “Comment: Kaminsky, Reinhart, Végh. When It Rains, It Pours: Procyclical Capital Flows and Macroeconomic Policies.” NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2004, edited by Mark Gertler and Kenneth Rogoff, 19: 54-61. Cambridge, MA: M.I.T. Press. Publisher's Version
Aguiar, Mark, and Gita Gopinath. 2005. “Fire-Sale Foreign Direct Investment and Liquidity Crises.” Review of Economics and Statistics 87 (3): 439-452. Publisher's Version Abstract

In placing capital market imperfections at the center of emerging market crises, the theoretical literature has associated a liquidity crisis with low foreign investment and the exit of investors from the crisis economy. However, a liquidity crisis is equally consistent with an inflow of foreign capital in the form of mergers and acquisitions (M&A). To support this hypothesis, we use a firm-level dataset to show that foreign acquisitions increased by 91% in East Asia between 1996 and 1998, while intra-national merger activity declined. Firm liquidity plays a significant and sizeable role in explaining both the increase in foreign acquisitions and the decline in the price of acquisitions during the crisis. This contrasts with the role of liquidity in non-crisis years and in non-crisis economies in the region. This effect is also most prominent in the tradable sector. Quantitatively, the observed decline in liquidity can explain 25% of the increase in foreign acquisition activity in the tradable sectors. The nature of M&A activity supports liquidity-based explanations of the East Asian crisis and provides an explanation for the puzzling stability of FDI inflows during the crises.

Gopinath, Gita. 2004. “Lending Booms, Sharp Reversals and Real Exchange Rate Dynamics.” Journal of International Economics 62 (1): 1-23. Publisher's Version Abstract

Emerging markets in the 1990s experienced periods of booms followed by collapses in gross domestic product, consumption, traded and non-traded sector output and real exchange rate movements alongside unprecedented movements in foreign investor participation in these economies. An important feature of these episodes is the asymmetry in the pattern of booms and collapses. We introduce a natural search friction into the foreign investment decision in a small open economy and demonstrate that this can generate the asymmetry observed in the data. The magnitude of the reversals predicted by the model can be quantitatively large and empirically relevant.