Understanding Global Trade

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Overview

Global trade is of vital interest to citizens as well as policymakers, yet it is widely misunderstood. This compact exposition of the market forces underlying international commerce addresses both of these concerned groups, as well as the needs of students and scholars. Although it contains no equations, it is almost mathematical in its elegance, precision, and power of expression.

Understanding Global Trade provides a thorough explanation of what shapes the international organization of production and distribution and the resulting trade flows. It reviews the evolution of knowledge in this field from Adam Smith to today as a process of theoretical modeling, accumulation of new empirical data, and then revision of analytical frameworks in response to evidence and changing circumstances. It explains the sources of comparative advantage and how they lead countries to specialize in making products which they then sell to other countries. While foreign trade contributes to the overall welfare of a nation, it also creates winners and losers, and Helpman describes mechanisms through which trade affects a country's income distribution.

The book provides a clear and original account of the revolutions in trade theory of the 1980s and the most recent decade. It shows how scholars shifted the analysis of trade flows from the sectoral level to the business-firm level, to elucidate the growing roles of multinational corporations, offshoring, and outsourcing in the international division of labor. Helpman’s explanation of the latest research findings is essential for an understanding of world affairs.

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Editorial Reviews

Jagdish Bhagwati
Elhanan Helpman is among the foremost trade theorists of his generation. In this splendid book, he demonstrates that he can also write successfully for the public. This is welcome news for those who value an informed democracy.
Kenneth Rogoff
The explosion in global trade over the past few decades is the defining economic phenomenon of our lifetimes, yet even professional economists struggle to understand its complexities. Understanding Global Trade explains, in a clear and non-technical style, important and exciting insights from the frontiers of research in international trade. Anyone interested in understanding the nuances of globalization should read this book. Elhanan Helpman is an immensely influential researcher who has towered above the field of international trade for more than three decades. With this wonderful book, his research ideas, and those of others in the field, will become known to a whole new audience.
Stanley Fischer
Elhanan Helpman's Understanding Global Trade is a masterpiece of non-mathematical, fully understandable, but still rigorous, exposition. Within five chapters Helpman takes the reader from the classical theories of international trade, comparative advantage and Heckscher-Ohlin, to the modern theories that explain today's global trading world--of multinational firms, of outsourcing and outshoring, of why some firms export and others remain firmly local--and why it matters.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674060784
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 4/29/2011
  • Pages: 232
  • Sales rank: 424,386
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Elhanan Helpman is Galen L. Stone Professor of International Trade at Harvard University and the author of many research articles and books.
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Table of Contents

Preface ix

1 Introduction 1

2 Comparative Advantage 12

2.1 Technology 15

2.2 Factor Proportions 28

3 Gainers and Losers 46

3.1 No Distributional Conflicts 48

3.2 Two Case Studies 52

3.2.1 The United States 52

3.2.2 Japan 53

3.3 Distributional Conflicts 56

3.4 Compensating Losers 62

4 Scale and Scope 68

4.1 Economies of Scale 72

4.2 Monopolistic Competition 79

4.3 Additional Sources of Gains from Trade 95

5 Across Firms within Industries 99

5.1 Exporting vs. Nonexporting Firms 100

5.2 Quantitative Assessment 107

5.3 Unemployment and Inequality 112

6 Offshoring and Outsourcing 126

6.1 Offshoring 129

6.2 The Traditional Approach 132

6.3 Horizontal FDI 134

6.4 Vertical FDI 142

6.5 Complex Integration 146

6.6 Internalization 154

7 Epilogue 166

Notes 173

Bibliography 193

Index 213

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