DP22 | The Terms of Trade, Labour Supply and the Current Account

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01/06/1984

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Abstract

This paper extends Svensson and Razin's two period analysis of the Laursen-Harberger-Metzler effect to the important case where labour supply and output are variable. A terms of trade shift alters the relationship between the product and the consumption wage and so induces a change in output. This extension substantially enriches their analysis. A temporary current terms of trade deterioration has an ambiguous effect on the current account, but their finding that a future deterioration leads to an improvement in the current account is strengthened. The effect of a permanent terms of trade shift in a stationary state depends not only on the rate of time preference, but also on the strength of intertemporal substitution effects. In the canonical case of a constant rate of time preference the current account deteriorates in response to a permanent terms of trade deterioration if the degree of intertemporal substitution in consumption exceeds that in leisure, or equivalently whether the wealth effect on consumption exceeds that on labour supply. The model is then extended to an infinite horizon by embedding it in an overlapping generations framework. Intergenerational linkages through the labour market are now the source of some complex dynamics. From an initial position of balance on current account an anticipated temporary terms of trade deterioration leads to a period of steadily increasing surplus a deficit on impact, and a further period of declining surpluses. A permanent deterioration in the terms of trade leads to a similar period of anticipatory surpluses, followed by a period of declining deficits after impact.