Ronan Lyons | Personal Website
Ronan Lyons | Personal Website

Automobiles, e-commerce and immigration

This week’s recommended reading and some latest stats and facts…

First up, some research:

  • Economists almost always decline to involve themselves with the specifics of particular industries and goods, preferring instead to talk about widgets and other abstractions. However, that’s not very realistic when you look at economic history or think of, for example, the central nature of the construction and automobile industries in the ongoing economic downturn. In that vein, the OECD has just released a study called “The automobile industry in and beyond the crisis“. After setting out the importance of the industry, it examines the collapse in car sales during the crisis and looks ahead to the future of the industry, country by country. In particular, Western European manufacturers – and those in Japan and Korea – have capacity significantly above domestic demand, meaning that their export performance will be critical in determining the health of these industries. China – and to a lesser extent India – are not unpredictably growth markets for the industry.
  • Secondly, some interesting academic research in the Journal of International Economics on the long-term effects of colonialism. The paper, called “The erosion of colonial trade linkages after independence”, is available in its gated (official) form on ScienceDirect, but a just-as-good version is available to all from Sciences-Po. The authors use the fact that most countries today were part of empires as late as 1945 to examine bilateral trade since then. They find little short-run effect on trade, except in the case of “hostile separation”, but thirty years after independence, trade with the colonizer shrinks by more than 60%. It seems to be more the unwinding of trade diversion rather than economic revenge, as the effect extends to “Commonwealth partners”, fellow colonised countries.
  • Edgar Morgenroth presented a paper at the ESRI a couple of years ago on how immigration into Ireland has boosted imports of consumer goods from the home countries – think Polish food taking up Spar’s shelf real-estate. Giovanni Peri and Francisco Requena-Silvente consider the alternative: an increase in exports to home countries. They present evidence from Spain suggesting that doubling the number of immigrants leads to a 10% increase in exports to their country of origin, an effect that is larger when the countries are “culturally different”.
  • Lastly, the OECD welcomes Chile into its club of high-income members with an inaugural review, highlighting two priorities for its policymakers: solidifying its economic growth base and tackling inequality.

To close, a few things we didn’t know last week:

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