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American Economic Review: Vol. 103 No. 2 (April 2013)

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Commercial Imperialism? Political Influence and Trade during the Cold War

Article Citation

Berger, Daniel, William Easterly, Nathan Nunn, and Shanker Satyanath. 2013. "Commercial Imperialism? Political Influence and Trade during the Cold War." American Economic Review, 103(2): 863-96.

DOI: 10.1257/aer.103.2.863

Abstract

We provide evidence that increased political influence, arising from CIA interventions during the Cold War, was used to create a larger foreign market for American products. Following CIA interventions, imports from the US increased dramatically, while total exports to the US were unaffected. The surge in imports was concentrated in industries in which the US had a comparative disadvantage, not a comparative advantage. Our analysis is able to rule out decreased trade costs, changing political ideology, and an increase in US loans and grants as alternative explanations. We provide evidence that the increased imports arose through direct purchases of American products by foreign governments. (JEL D72, F14, F54, N42, N72)

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Authors

Berger, Daniel (U Essex)
Easterly, William (NYU)
Nunn, Nathan (Harvard U)
Satyanath, Shanker (NYU)

JEL Classifications

D72: Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
F14: Empirical Studies of Trade
F54: Colonialism; Imperialism; Postcolonialism
N42: Economic History: Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation: U.S.; Canada: 1913-
N72: Economic History: Transport, Trade, Energy, Technology, and Other Services: U.S.; Canada: 1913-


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