James E. Rauch and Joel Watson
Motivated by evidence on the importance of incomplete information and networks in international trade, we investigate the supply of network intermediation. We build a general-equilibrium model in which agents with networks of foreign contacts either can use their networks themselves in support of production or can make their networks available for others to use and thereby can become network intermediaries. We use this model for comparative statics and welfare analysis. One welfare conclusion is that intermediaries may have inadequate incentives to maintain or to expand their networks, suggesting a rationale for the policies followed by some countries to encourage large-scale trading companies.
Robert C. Feenstra and Gordon H. Hanson
In this paper, we examine Hong Kong's role in intermediating trade between China and the rest of the world. Hong Kong traders distribute a large fraction of China's exports. Net of customs, insurance, and freight charges, re-exports of Chinese goods are much more expensive when they leave Hong Kong than when they enter. Hong Kong markups on re-exports of Chinese goods are higher for differentiated products, products with higher variance in export prices, and products sent to China for further processing. These results are consistent with the view that traders resolve informational problems in exchange. Additional results suggest that traders price discriminate across destination markets and use transfer pricing to shift income from high-tax countries to Hong Kong.
Keith Head, John Ries and Barbara J. Spencer
In a model where upstream network insiders conduct relationship-specific investment, downstream firms have an incentive to transact within networks. Evidence from US auto parts exports to 26 auto-producing countries supports key predictions of the model. Greater production scale for assemblers lowers imported parts per car. Vertical networks matter in two ways. First, although Japan's average import levels are not unusually low, non-Japanese suppliers have relatively low market penetration for parts categories where vertical keiretsu are prominent in Japan. Second, US-owned assembly abroad and foreign-owned parts production in the US both stimulate parts exports.
Francine Lafontaine and Joanne E. Oxley
The contracting practices of franchisors outside their domestic market have received little attention in the empirical literature on franchising to date, largely because of lack of data. We exploit a novel data set that allows us to describe the contracts offered by a number of US and Canadian franchisors operating in Mexico and also compare them to contracts employed at home. Our analyses reveal a series of stylized facts that we hope will prove useful in guiding future empirical and theoretical research on contracting and especially on cross-border contracting practices. These are as follows: (1) The overwhelming majority of franchisors seeking franchisees in Mexico offer exactly the same contract to potential Mexican franchisees as that employed in the home market; (2) Among those franchisors that already have established outlets in Mexico, nearly half use the exact same fees in Mexico and at home; (3) The majority of those franchisors that make changes only alter the fixed fee component of the contract; (4) There is no evidence that franchisors use franchising more or less in Mexico compared to home as an alternative to royalty rate customization—in fact, the extent of franchising (versus company-owned units) of these firms in Mexico is not different systematically from that observed in their domestic market or worldwide; and (5) There is no evidence of increased customization over time—if anything, the evidence suggests increased similarities in contracting practices over time.
Orlando I. Balboa, Andrew F. Daughety and Jennifer F. Reinganum
We examine a heterogenous goods duopoly model, wherein governments simultaneously and noncooperatively choose whether or not to provide subsidies for their firms and then firms noncooperatively choose output levels, either sequentially or simultaneously. We find that government trade policy and market structure are interdependent. First, the trade regime alters traditional firm preferences over sequential versus simultaneous play. Second, different market structures influence governments' preferences about free trade versus subsidies. Further, if one of the firms is a potential leader, allowing for endogenous market structure generates equilibrium outcomes that sometimes reinforce, and sometimes counter, traditional results in the strategic trade literature.
Gianni De Fraja and George Norman
We analyze how product differentiation influences firms' choice between exporting and foreign direct investment. When product specifications are determined endogenously, we show that there is no symmetric solution to the product specification subgame. The cost disadvantage of an exporting firm translates into a disadvantage in product specification. Overseas production is favored if this allows the investing firm to adopt a more aggressive product specification. Our analysis suggests an ambiguous relationship among location, product differentiation, and cost and demand functions, confirmed by the existence of a parameter range for which there is no pure strategy equilibrium in location choice.
Yoshiro Miwa and J. Mark Ramseyer
Observers routinely claim that the Japanese government of the high-growth 1960s and 1970s rationed and ultimately directed credit. It barred domestic competitors to banks, insulated the domestic capital market from international competitive pressure, and capped loan interest rates. In the resulting credit shortage, it promoted industrial policy by rationing credit.