Ezequiel Garcia-Lembergman

PhD Candidate, University of California at Berkeley

My research interests are in international trade, economic geography, and applied econometrics. My CV is here, and a description of my research is here.

I am on the job market this year and available for interviews before, during and after the (virtual) 2021 AEA/ASSA & EJM meetings.

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Photo by Hagit Caspi

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Fields

International Trade, Economic Geography, and Applied Econometrics.

Research

Working papers

I study whether and how retail chains and their geographic distribution of stores contribute to the propagation of shocks across regions in the United States. Linking detailed store scanner micro-data to a county-level house price dataset for the period of the Great Recession, I investigate the spread of house-price induced local shocks through the networks of retail chains. My main empirical finding is that county-level prices are sensitive to shocks in distant counties that happen to be served by the same retail chains. A 10% drop in house prices in other counties that are served by the same retailers leads, on average, to a 1.4% decline in the local consumer retail price index. My results hold after conditioning on trade relationships due to geographic proximity. In fact, I document that once the retail chains' networks are controlled for, there is no additional role for propagation of shocks across nearby regions. Finally, while the network of retail chains is an important determinant of the effect local shocks have on consumer prices, it does not affect wages in distant regions, which suggests that the network of retail chains affects consumers' real income. I rationalize the reduced-form estimates in a model in which retail chains vary prices uniformly across their stores as a function of changes in market demand that they face at the (aggregate) chain level. I find that the calibrated model with uniform pricing can fully account for the reduced-form effects. Counterfactual analysis shows that uniform pricing and the geographic distribution of retail chains reduced cross-county dispersion in inflation by 40% during the Great Recession, benefiting consumers from low-income counties that were less exposed to drops in local house prices.

This paper studies the responses of multi-destination exporters to import cost shocks in a context of variable markups. We develop a trade model with variable markups and we propose an empirical strategy that let us identify the within-firm, across-destinations elasticity of markup and the sensitivity of this elasticity to a firm's market power in the destination. On the empirical side, the methodology requires analyzing changes on firms' export values across destinations in response to exogenous cost shocks. We use a comprehensive data of Argentinian firms and exploit variability in the timing of import barriers imposed to Argentinian products. Not surprisingly, we find that trade barriers reduce imports for those firms that are more exposed to the policy. This, in turn, yields to a considerably decline in their total exports. According to our estimates, the elasticity of total exports with respect to total imports is around 50%. We then use the cost shock to uncover the main fact of this paper: for a given firm, in a given year, the negative effect of rising imports costs on exports is more prominent in markets where the firm is smaller relative to other firms in the same sector. In the light of our model, this result implies that the elasticity of markup for a given firm in a given year, is increasing on its market power in the destination market. Intuitively, a multi-destination exporter decides to adjust relatively more its markups (and less their prices and export revenues) in those markets where it has higher market power.

Importing After Exporting, with Facundo Albornoz.

We uncover a novel fact about the relationship between exporting and importing. Using a comprehensive database of Argentine firms, we find that exporting to a new destination increases the probability of a firm beginning to import from that market within the lapse of one year. We develop a model of import and export decisions to study the effect of productivity and import costs on the intensive and extensive margins of importing. We show that "importing after exporting" implies that export entry reduces the cost of importing from that market. This effect is more likely to occur in distant markets, and in situations where importing involves non-homogeneous and rarely imported goods. Furthermore, new import activities from a new export destination continue regardless of whether the firm remains as an exporter in that market. This evidence emphasizes the influence of export experience on firms' sourcing decisions. The effect of export entry on sourcing costs has implications that go beyond qualitative insights: according to our quantitative exercise, import costs fall 53% in a given destination after export entry, and the estimated import-cost savings increase for distant markets outside the Americas.

Work in Progress

"Multinational Production and Climate Change", with Andres Rodriguez-Clare and Joseph Shapiro.

"Price controls, market power and inequality on consumption baskets: evidence from retail scanner data in Argentina", with Bernardo Diaz-Astarola and Dario Tortarolo.

Publications

The impact of export restrictions on production: A synthetic controls approach, with Martin Rossi & Rodolfo Stucchi. Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Economic Association, 2018.

In spite of the generalized use of quantitative restrictions on exports, there is little empirical research on their effectiveness to achieve the intended effects of reducing exports, increasing production for domestic markets, and reducing domestic prices. This paper aims at filling this gap by estimating the impact of quantitative restrictions on cattle beef exports in Bolivia, applying a synthetic controls approach. Our main finding is that export restrictions have a negative impact not only on total production, but also on production for the domestic market. This fact, together with an increase in the domestic price, is consistent with a supply shift. The fact that export controls can shift supply and actually harm production for domestic markets bears important implications for the design of policies in the future.

Microeconomic dimensions of an export boom: Argentina, 2003-2011, with Facundo Albornoz and Leticia Juarez. The World Economy Journal, 2018.

This paper examines Argentine exports at the firm level between 2003 and 2011, a period of exceptional and sustained export growth. While at the product level, the pattern of specialization barely changed, exporters exhibit new dynamics in international markets: firms not only expanded sales abroad by increasing their exports in existing markets, but also by entering into new destinations and adding new products. That is, new export strategies allowed exporters achieve greater resistance to the variations in the macroeconomic environment. We find that the importance of the different export margins changes overtime: while the currency is depreciated, the intensive margin explains most of export growth, whereas the subextensive and extensive margins become the main source of export growth once the currency appreciates. We also uncover a strong complementarity between import and export growth.

Teaching

Leader in Workshop for new Teaching Assistants (2019/2020). Evaluations: 4.8/5.0.

Economic Development. Professor: Benjamin Faber, Spring 2019. Evaluations: 6.1/7.0.

Game Theory for Social Science. Professor: Robert Powell, Fall 2018. Evaluations: 6.1/7.0.

Economic Development. Professor: Edward Miguel, Spring 2018. Evaluations: 5.9/7.0.

Game Theory for Social Science. Professor: Andrew Little, Fall 2017. Evaluations: 6.5/7.0.

Economic Development. Professor: Benjamin Faber, Spring 2017. Evaluations: 6.3/7.0.

Microeconomic Analysis. Professor: Calanit Kamala, Fall 2016. Evaluations: 6.2/7.0.

Awards

Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor Award 2017-2018.