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The cost of a global tariff war: A sufficient statistics approach

Ahmad Lashkaripour

Journal of International Economics, 2021, vol. 131, issue C

Abstract: Tariff wars have reemerged as a serious threat to the global economy. Yet measuring the prospective cost of a global tariff war remains computationally prohibitive, unless we restrict attention to a small set of countries and industries. This paper develops a new methodology that measures the cost of a global tariff war in one simple step as a function of observable shares, industry-level trade elasticities, and markup wedges. Applying this methodology to data on 44 countries and 56 industries, I find that (i) the prospective cost of a global tariff war has more-than-doubled over the past fifteen years, with small downstream economies being the most vulnerable. (ii) Meanwhile, due to the rise of global markup distortions, the potential gains from cooperative tariff policies have also elevated to unprecedented levels.

Date: 2021
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DOI: 10.1016/j.jinteco.2020.103419

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