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Comparative Advantage and the Gains from Trade

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1 Comparative Advantage and the Gains from Trade
Chapter 3 Comparative Advantage and the Gains from Trade

2 Learning Objectives Analyze numerical examples of absolute and comparative advantage. Define and state the differences between the concepts of absolute advantage, comparative advantage, and competitiveness. Discuss the economic and ethical considerations of economic restructuring caused by international trade.

3 Introduction: The Gains from Trade
The improvement in national welfare is known as the gains from trade

4 Adam Smith and the Attack on Economic Nationalism
In 1776, Adam Smith published the first modern statement of economic theory, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations The Wealth of Nations attacked mercantilism—the system of nationalistic economics that dominated economic thought in the 1700s Smith proved wrong the belief that trade was a zero sum game—that the gain of one nation from trade was the loss of another Voluntary exchange (trade) is a positive sum game —both nations gain

5 Implications of Adam Smith’s Theory
Access to foreign markets helps create wealth If no nation imports, every company will be limited by the size of its home country market Imports enable a country to obtain goods that it cannot make itself or can make only at very high costs Trade barriers decrease the size of the potential market, hampering the prospects of specialization, technological progress, mutually beneficial exchange, and, ultimately, wealth creation

6 Adam Smith and Trade Barriers
Smith was highly critical of trade barriers Trade barriers decrease - Specialization - Technological progress - Wealth creation The modern view of trade shares Smith’s dislike for trade barriers

7 A Simple Model of Production and Trade
A basic model, often referred to as the Ricardian model, named after economist David Ricardo Assumptions Markets are competitive: Firms are price takers Static world: Technology is constant and there are no learning effects Labor is perfectly mobile: It can easily move back and forth between industries but perfectly immobile across national borders.

8 TABLE 3.1 Assumptions of the Simple Ricardian Trade Model

9 Absolute Productivity Advantage and the Gains from Trade
Productivity: The amount of output obtained from a unit of input Labor productivity: (units of output) / (hours worked) If two loaves of bread can be produced in 1 hour, productivity = (2 loaves) / (1 hour) Absolute productivity advantage: The advantage held by a country that produces more of a certain good per hour worked than another

10 TABLE 3.2 Output per Hour Worked

11 Relative Prices Without trade, the U.S. would forgo 0.67 loaves of bread for an additional ton of steel. This is the opportunity cost of steel, or the relative price of steel Why relative price? Because the price is not in monetary units but in units of the other good -Relative price of steel is the inverse of the price of bread: if 0.67 loaves of bread is the price of a ton of steel in the U.S., then 1.5 tons of steel is the price of one loaf of bread

12 The Consumption Possibilities Curve
Autarky: The complete absence of trade; all nations can only consume the goods they produce at home Trade allows countries to raise their consumption Example: If the opportunity cost of steel in Canada is 3 loaves of bread per ton, and in the U.S loaves per ton, both countries can consume more by trading Gains from trade will occur if the price of steel settles somewhere between the opportunity costs in Canada and the U.S.

13 The Gains from Trade In sum, suppose the relative price of steel is 2 loaves of bread When the U.S. increases steel output by 1 ton, it gives up 0.67 loaves of bread output; however, it can now trade the steel for 2 loaves, leaving a net gain of 1.33 loaves ( = 1.33) To meet U.S. demand for 2 more loaves of bread, Canada gives up 0.67 tons of steel output; however, it can now trade 2 loaves for 1 ton of steel, leaving a net gain of 0.33 tons ( = 0.33)

14 Domestic Prices and the Trade Price
How do we make sure that the trade price settles within If the trade price was 4 loaves of bread, both countries would specialize in steel. However, the consequent bread shortage and steel glut would increase the price of bread and decrease the price of steel; once the price of bread fell to less than 3.0, Canadian producers would switch back to bread If trade price is closer to 0.67, gains are larger for Canada; if it is closer to 3.0, gains are larger for the U.S.; however, both would gain from trade when the price falls in this range

15 Absolute and Comparative Productivity Advantage Contrasted
Absolute productivity advantage is having a higher labor productivity. If each country has an absolute productivity advantage in one of the goods, both benefit by specializing in that good and trading it for the other good.

16 Absolute and Comparative Productivity Advantage Contrasted (cont.)
Comparative productivity advantage is if a country’s opportunity costs of producing a good are lower than those of its trading partners. The concept is based on the idea that nations maximize their material well-being when they use their resources where they have their highest value.

17 Comparative Productivity Advantage and the Gains from Trade
Question: What happens if a country does not have an absolute productivity advantage in anything? Answer: Even if a country does not have any goods with an absolute productivity advantage, it can still benefit from trade - The idea that nations benefit from trade has nothing to do with whether a country has an absolute advantage in producing a particular good

18 TABLE 3.3 Output per Hour Worked

19 Gains from Trade with No Absolute Advantage
Japan has an absolute advantage in both cars (2>0.5) and steel (3>1), yet it can still gain from trade, as can Malaysia Once trade opens, the world price of cars will be between one and two tons of steel per car

20 Comparative Advantage and “Competitiveness”
Comparative advantage = competitive advantage when the prices of both inputs and outputs are an accurate indication of their relative scarcity Comparative advantage ≠ competitive advantage when the markets fail to correctly value the price of inputs and outputs -Imbalances result from government policies, such as subsidies or protection

21 Economic Restructuring
Economic restructuring: Changes in the economy that may require some industries to grow and others to shrink or disappear In the Ricardian model, trade opening moved labor from bread to steel production: restructuring improved U.S. overall economic welfare but made its bread industry disappear If trade results in net gain (in an increase of the consumption bundle), a country will be better off by trading; however, some sectors may still lose

22 Economic Restructuring (cont.)
Given that some lose due to economic restructuring, the government can seek to get the winners from trade and restructuring to compensate the losers Trade adjustment assistance (TAA) helps losers by providing extended unemployment benefits, worker retraining, and temporary tax on imports For example, the U.S. government created a special program for workers laid off because of NAFTA; in 1994, 17,000 workers qualified for the program

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