Peak Trade? An Anatomy of the Recent Global Trade Slowdown

Bart Los , University of Groningen

Since 2008, the world trade – GDP ratio has been constant, after a long-run hike. How much is attributable to a “structural” decline in international production fragmentation, as compared to a “cyclical” decline in global demand? Current research does not provide a consensus, as shown by contributions in Hoekman (2015). A major obstacle is the lack of recent information on possible changes in global production networks. Based on an update of the World Input-Output Database (WIOD) through 2014 we will for the first time be able to make an anatomy of post-crisis world trade, which distinguishes between the various structural and cyclical explanations. To this end, we introduce a novel methodology, building upon the framework introduced by Los, Timmer and de Vries (2015). It decomposes changes in global imports into changes in the structure of world GDP and changes in the import elasticity of production. In contrast to existing research that relies heavily on econometric analysis, we provide an ex-post accounting of the effects of changes in both demand and in international production systems in one coherent modelling framework.

About the speaker
Bart Los (1967) is Professor of the Economics of Technological Progress and Structural Change at the University of Groningen. He obtained his PhD from the University of Twente (The Netherlands) in 1999. His research mainly deals with relationships between innovation, productivity, trade, structural change and economic growth. He published his work in journals like American Economic Review, Economic Policy, Journal of Development Economics, Journal of Economic Perspectives and Research Policy. Since 2009, he has been editor of Economic Systems Research, the journal of the International Input-Output Association and was one of the three coordinators of the World Input-Output Database (WIOD) project funded by the European Commission.

Venue: Room 0.17, UNU-MERIT, Boschstraat 24, Maastricht

Date: 22 June 2016

Time: 10:00 - 11:00