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Comparative Advantage, Trade And Payments In A Ricardian Model With A Continuum Of Goods


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LIBRARY

OF THE

MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE

OF TECHNOLOGY

Digitized by the Internet Archive

in 2011 with funding from

Boston Library Consortium Member Libraries

http://www.archive.org/details/comparativeadvanOOdorn

working paper

department

of economics

R. Dornbusch

COMPARATIVE ADVANTAGE,

TRADE AND PAYMENTS IN A RICARDIAN

MODEL WITH A CONTINUUM OF GOODS

S. Fischer P. A. Samuelson

Number 178 April 1976

massachusetts

institute of

technology

50 memorial drive

Cambridge, mass. 02139

COMPARATIVE ADVANTAGE,

TRADE AND PAYMENTS IN A RICARDIAN

MODEL WITH A CONTINUUM OF GOODS^

R. Dornbusch S. Fischer P. A. Samuelson

Number 178 April 1976

The views expressed in this paper are the authors' sole

responsibility and do not reflect those of the Department

of Economics, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology,

the Ford Foundation, or the National Science Foundation.

JUN 26 1976 I

Revised

April 1976

COMPARATIVE ADVANTAGE, TRADE AND PAYMENTS IN A RICARDIAN

MODEL WITH A CONTINUUM OF GOODS*

R. Dornbusch S. Fischer P. A. Samuelson

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

This paper discusses Ricardian trade and payments theory in the case

of a continuum of commodities. The analysis thus extends the development

of the many- commodity, two-country comparative advantage analysis as

presented, for example in Haberler (1937) and as historically reviewed

by Chipman (1965) . Perhaps surprisingly, the continuum assumption simplifies

the analysis in comparison with the discrete many-commodity case.

The distinguishing feature of the Ricardian approach emphasized in this

paper is the determination of the competitive margin in production between

imported and exported goods. The analysis advances the existing literature

by showing formally how tariffs and transport costs establish a range of

commodities that are not traded, and how the price-specie flow mechanism does

or does not give rise to movements in relative cost and price levels.

The formal real model is introduced in Part I. Its equilibrium

determines the relative wage and price structure and the efficient international

specialization pattern. Part II considers standard comparative

static questions of growth, demand shifts, technological change, and

transfers. Extensions of the model to nontraded goods, tariffs and

R. Dornbusch acknowledges gratefully a Ford Foundation Grant; S. Fischer,

NSF GS-41428; and P. Samuelson, NSF 75-04053.

0727632

- 2

transport costs are then studied in Part III. Monetary considerations

are introduced in Part IV, which examines the price-specie mechanism under

stable parities, floating exchange rate regimes, and also questions of

unemployment under sticky money wages.

- 3 -

I. THE REAL MODEL

In this part we develop the basic real model and determine the

equilibrium relative wage and price structure along with the efficient

geographic pattern of specialization. Assumptions about technology are

specified in Section A. Section B deals with demand. In Section C the

equilibrium is constructed and some of its properties are explored.

Throughout this section we assume zero transport costs and no other impediments

to trade.

A. Technology and Efficient Geographic Specialization

The many-commodity Ricardian model assumes constant unit labor

requirements (aI,,...n, a ) and (a,I,..n.,a ) for the n commodities that can

be produced in the home and foreign countries, respectively. The commodities

are conveniently indexed so that relative unit labor requirements

are ranked in order of diminishing home-country comparative advantage,

* * *

a,1/a1, > ... > a.1/a1. > ... > a /a n n

where an asterisk denotes the foreign country.

In working with a continuum of goods, we similarly index commodities

on an interval, say[o,l], in accordance with diminishing home-country comparative

advantage. a commodity, z, is associated with each point on

the

...

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