Oil Prices and International Trade: How Petrodollar Recycling Affects the Industrialised Countries
Since 2004, prices for crude oil nearly tripled at international commodity markets. In the wake of the oil crises of the 1970s and ‘80s, numerous empirical studies analysing the macroeconomic effects of sharp increases in commodity prices were carried out pointing at the risks of oil price rises for GDP growth in oil-importing countries. However, in most of these analyses, the impact of oil price increases on international trade of oil-importing countries, which gained in importance in the course of globalisation, is considered only marginally. This is especially the case for the additional revenues of oil-exporting countries spent in large parts for imports from and investment in the industrialised economies. The present article examines the impact of oil price increases on merchandise exports and imports of single oil-importing industrialised countries. The results show that the curbing effects on merchandise exports are lower than on imports. Whereas import demand responds disproportionally high on the decline in consumption and investment in consequence of oil price increases, the effects on merchandise exports are ambivalent. On the one hand, exports to oil-importing trading partner countries decline due to the local economic downturns, but on the other, exports to oil-exporting countries sharply increase. As a consequence, the negative impact of rising oil prices on macroeconomic activity in oil-importing countries is lowered by the external sector due to growing net exports.