Coauthor
  • DHINGRA Swati (1)
  • MORROW John (1)
  • SONNTAG Jan (1)
  • OBERFIELD Ezra (1)
Document Type
  • Working paper (3)
  • Article (2)
in The Quarterly journal of economics Edited by HARVARD UNIVERSITY Publication date 2020-11
OBERFIELD Ezra
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The strength of contract enforcement determines how firms source inputs and organize production. Using microdata on Indian manufacturing plants, we show that production and sourcing decisions appear systematically distorted in states with weaker enforcement. Specifically, we document that in industries that tend to rely more heavily on relationship-specific intermediate inputs, plants in states with more-congested courts shift their expenditures away from intermediate inputs and have a greater vertical span of production. To quantify the effect of these distortions on aggregate productivity, we construct a model in which plants have several ways of producing, each with different bundles of inputs. Weak enforcement exacerbates a holdup problem that arises when using inputs that require customization, distorting both the intensive and extensive margins of input use. The equilibrium organization of production and the network structure of input-output linkages arise endogenously from the producers’ simultaneous cost-minimization decisions. We identify the structural parameters that govern enforcement frictions from cross-state variation in the first moments of producers’ cost shares. A set of counterfactuals show that enforcement frictions lower aggregate productivity to an extent that is relevant on the macro scale.

in The Review of Economics & Statistics Publication date 2020-06
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I study how supplier contracting frictions shape the patterns of intermediate input use and quantify the impact of these distortions on aggregate productivity. Using the frequency of litigation between US firms as a novel measure to capture the need for formal enforcement, I find a robust relationship between countries' input-output structure and their quality of legal institutions: in countries with high enforcement costs, firms have lower expenditure shares on intermediate inputs in sector pairs where US firms litigate frequently for breach of contract. A quantitative model shows that improvement of contract enforcement institutions would lead to sizeable welfare gains.

Publication date 2019-04 Collection Sciences Po Economics Discussion Papers : 2019-07
DHINGRA Swati
MORROW John
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Multiproduct firms dominate production, and their product turnover contributes substantially to aggregate growth. Theories propose that multiproduct firms grow by diversifying into products which need the same know-how or capabilities, but are less clear on what these capabilities are. Input output tables show firms co-produce in industries that share intermediate inputs, suggesting input capabilities drive multiproduct production patterns. We provide evidence for this in Indian manufacturing: the similarity of a firm’s input mix to an industry’s input mix predicts entry into that industry. We identify the direction of causality from the removal of size-based entry barriers in input markets which made firms more likely to enter industries that were similar in input use to their initial input mix. We rationalize this finding with a model of industry choice and economies of scope to estimate the importance of input capabilities in determining comparative advantage. Complementarities driven by input capabilities make a firm on average 5% (and up to 15%) more likely to produce in an industry. Entry barriers in input markets constrained the comparative advantage of firms and were equivalent to a 10.5 percentage point tariff on inputs.

Publication date 2018-12 Collection Sciences Po Economics Discussion Papers : 2018-12
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This paper studies the prevalence of vertical market foreclosure using a novel dataset on U.S. and international buyer-seller relationships, and across a large range of industries. We find that relationships are more likely to break when suppliers vertically integrate with one of the buyers’ competitors than when they vertically integrate with an unrelated firm. This relationship holds also, among other things, when conditioning on mergers that follow exogenous downward pressure on the supplier’s stock prices, suggesting that reverse causality is unlikely to explain the result. In contrast, the relationship vanishes when using rumored or announced but not completed integration events. Firms experience a substantial drop in sales when one of their suppliers integrates with one of their competitors. This sales drop is mitigated if the firm has alternative suppliers in place.

Publication date 2018-12 Collection Sciences Po Economics Discussion Papers : 2018-12
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Contracting frictions affect the organization of firms, but how much does this matter on the aggregate level? This paper studies how costly supplier contract enforcement shapes the patterns of intermediate input use and quantifies the impact of these distortions on aggregate productivity and welfare. Using the frequency of litigation between US firms to measure the potential for hold-up problems, I find a robust relationship between countries’ input-output structure and their quality of legal institutions: in countries with high enforcement costs, firms have lower expenditure shares on intermediate inputs in sector pairs where US firms litigate frequently for breach of contract. I adapt a Ricardian trade model to the study of intersectoral trade, and show that the variation in intermediate input shares that is explained by contracting frictions is large enough to generate sizeable welfare increases when enforcement institutions are improved.