International risk sharing and commodity prices
Abstract Cole and Obstfeld (1991) exposited a classic result where equilibrium movements in the terms of trade could make ex ante risk‐sharing arrangements unnecessary: a unity elasticity of substitution across goods and production specialization. This paper extends their model to N countries and M commodities (N > M). Here the terms of trade provides insurance against commodity‐specific shocks, not country‐specific shocks. Using commodity‐level production data at the national level and world commodity prices, we document significant terms of trade variability and positive responses of nation‐specific production to terms of trade improvements. The endogenous terms of trade insurance mechanism highlighted in CO is virtually non‐existent.
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