Back on Track? A Macro-Micro Narrative of Italian Exports
89 Pages Posted: 17 Nov 2017
Date Written: October 18, 2017
We provide an in-depth analysis of Italy’s export performance relative to the other main euro-area countries over the last two decades, using both macro and micro data. We argue that the relatively unsatisfactory performance of Italian goods exports until the eve of the 2008-09 crisis is the result of the interplay between the appreciation of the real effective exchange rate, the initial specialization in types of production that were particularly exposed to increasing competition from low-wage countries, and the size distribution of exporters, skewed towards small firms. Since 2010 signs of structural improvement have emerged, alongside cyclical factors, in connection with a shift in the specialization of exports towards sectors that are less exposed to competitive pressures and particularly effective in activating domestic value added. Moreover, the selection process triggered by the exceptional difficulties encountered by micro and small firms both before and during the global financial crisis might have structurally strengthened the population of Italian exporters, making it more resilient to negative shocks and more capable of keeping pace with external demand.
Keywords: Exports, Competitiveness, Specialization, Firm Size
JEL Classification: F14, F60, L11, L60
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