06 May 2014

Exports and Capacity Constraints: A smooth transition regression model for six euro-area countries

Ansgar Belke / Anne Oeking / Ralph Setzer

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The significant gains in export market shares made in a number of vulnerable euro-area crisis countries have not been accompanied by an appropriate improvement in price competitiveness. This paper argues that, under certain conditions, firms consider export activity as a substitute for serving domestic demand. The strength of the link between domestic demand and exports is dependent on capacity constraints. Our econometric model for six euro-area countries suggests domestic demand pressure and capacity-constraint restrictions as additional variables of a properly specified export equation. As an innovation to the literature, we assess the empirical significance through the logistic and the exponential variant of the non-linear smooth transition regression model. We find that domestic demand developments are relevant for the short-run dynamics of exports in particular during more extreme stages of the business cycle. A strong substitutive relationship between domestic and foreign sales can most clearly be found for Spain, Portugal and Italy, providing evidence of the importance of sunk costs and hysteresis in international trade.

Ansgar Belke, University of Duisburg-Essen, Monetary Experts Panel, European Parliament, and IZA, Bonn; Anne Oeking, University of Duisburg-Essen and Ruhr Graduate School in Economics; Ralph Setzer, European Central Bank, Frankfurt.