International trade and household debt: How import competition from China helped fuel the credit bubble of the 2000s – Jean-Noël Barrot, Erik Loualiche, Matthew Plosser, Julien Sauvagnat

MIT Sloan Assistant Professor Jean-Noël Barrot

MIT Sloan Asst. Prof. Jean-Noël Barrot

MIT Sloan Assistant Professor Erik Loualiche

MIT Sloan Asst. Prof. Erik Loualiche

From Vox

In the years preceding the Great Recession, there was a dramatic rise in household debt (e.g. Mian and Sufi 2009) and an unprecedented increase in import competition. This competition was triggered by the expansion of China and other low-wage countries in global markets, and had substantial labour market consequences (Autor et al. 2013, Autor et al. 2014, Pierce and Schott, 2016). There is a striking break and a dramatic acceleration of both trends at the turn of the century.

We hypothesise that these two phenomena were intimately linked, and that the impact of import competition on labour markets affected household debt expansion from 2000 to 2007.

More precisely, we argue that the displacement of domestic production by imports fuelled demand for credit in impacted areas.

We examine this hypothesis using a large, nationally representative panel dataset of anonymous consumer credit records, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Consumer Credit Panel/Equifax Data (CCP), HMDA as well as a longitudinal survey, the PSID. We exploit cross-regional variation in exposure to import competition to study the impact of import penetration on household liabilities.

More precisely, we use variation in exposure to international trade driven by historical industry composition at the commuting-zone level. To capture exposure to import competition, we build on prior work (Barrot et al. 2016) and use industry-level shipping costs (SC), obtained from import data and computed as the mark-up of Cost-Insurance-Freight over the price paid by the importer. We find shipping costs to be a strong predictor of the increase in import penetration. In Figure 1 we decompose Chinese import penetration to the US into high, medium, and low shipping cost industries. Most of the dramatic increase in Chinese import penetration in the 2000s is concentrated in low-shipping-cost industries.

Read the full post at Vox.

Jean-Noël Barrot is the Alfred Henry and Jean Morrison Hayes Career Development Professor and an Assistant Professor of Finance at the MIT Sloan School of Management.

Erik Loualiche is an Assistant Professor of Finance at the MIT Sloan School of Management.

Bigger loans for STEM students – S.P. Kothari and Korok Ray

MIT Sloan Professor SP Kothari

MIT Sloan Professor SP Kothari

From The Wall Street Journal 

By S.P. KOTHARI and KOROK RAY

Outstanding student debt has ballooned to $1.3 trillion and is now, aside from mortgages, most American households’ largest liability, according to the Federal Reserve. Last year alone student debt increased by almost $83.2 billion, or 6.7%. The price of tuition has risen an average 3.4% each year for a decade, markedly outpacing inflation.

Meanwhile, the U.S. faces a daunting skills gap in science, technology, engineering and math. Each year there are 1.3 million new openings in STEM fields but fewer than 600,000 new graduates. Is there a way to solve both these problems at once?

Read More »

Asst. Prof. Andrey Malenko: Types of Bidders are Key Factor in Corporate Takeovers

MIT Sloan Asst. Prof. Andrey Malenko

The market for corporate control is staggeringly large. In 2007 alone, the value of M&A transactions in the world was $4.8 trillion. Even in the wake of the economic crisis, it’s still a very active market with many complex features.

One of these features is the type of bidders involved in a corporate takeover auction. They fall into two categories: Strategic bidders such as competitors who are looking for long-term operational synergies, and financial bidders such as private equity firms and divisions of investment banks. Financial bidders are looking for financial synergies as well as for undervalued companies with the potential to improve operations.

Read More »

Simon Johnson: Is Europe on the Verge of a Depression, or a Great Inflation?

MIT Sloan Prof. Simon Johnson

From the New York Times

The news from Europe, particularly from within the euro zone, seems all bad.

Interest rates on Italian government debt continue to rise. Attempts to put together a “rescue package” at the pan-European level repeatedly fall behind events. And the lack of leadership from Germany and France is palpable – where is the vision or the clarity of thought we would have had from Charles de Gaulle or Konrad Adenauer?

Read More »

Christine Lagarde and the demand for dollars

Simon Johnson, Prof. of Global Economics

Source: The New York Times Economix

After receiving support from the United States at the critical moment, Christine Lagarde was named Tuesday as the next managing director of the International Monetary Fund. In campaigning for the job, Ms. Lagarde, France’s finance minister, made various promises to emerging markets with regard to improving their relationships with the I.M.F. But such promises count for little.

The main impact of her appointment will be to encourage countries like South Korea, Brazil, India and Russia to back away from the I.M.F. and to further “self-insure” by accumulating larger stockpiles of foreign-exchange reserves –- the strategy that has been followed by China for most of the last decade.

From an individual country’s perspective, having large amounts of dollar reserves held by your central bank or in a sovereign wealth fund makes a great deal of sense – a rainy day fund in a global economy prone to serious financial floods. Read More »