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Intermediated Trade

Pol Antras and Arnaud Costinot

The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 2011, vol. 126, issue 3, 1319-1374

Abstract: This paper develops a simple model of international trade with intermediation. We consider an economy with two islands and two types of agents, farmers and traders. Farmers can produce two goods, but to sell these goods in centralized (Walrasian) markets, they need to be matched with a trader, and this entails costly search. In the absence of search frictions, our model reduces to a standard Ricardian model of trade. We use this simple model to contrast the implications of changes in the integration of Walrasian markets, which allow traders from different islands to exchange their goods, and changes in the access to these Walrasian markets, which allow farmers to trade with traders from different islands. We find that intermediation always magnifies the gains from trade under the former type of integration, but leads to more nuanced welfare results under the latter, including the possibility of aggregate losses. Copyright 2011, Oxford University Press.

Date: 2011
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