Optimal domestic regulation under asymmetric information and international trade: a simple general equilibrium approach


  • We thank Omar Chisari, Avinash Dixit, Yolande Hiriart, Humberto Moreira, Marcelo Olarreaga, and seminar participants at various places for very useful discussions on an earlier draft. We are particularly grateful to Jim Hosek and two referees for constructive comments. This article is an extended and much revised version of our 2003 working paper “Optimal Domestic Regulation and the Pattern of Trade.” Financial support from the World Bank is gratefully acknowledged. The usual disclaimer applies. All errors are ours.


We investigate the design of domestic incentive regulations in a small economy opened to trade and its implications for international specialization and for trade openness to remain welfare-improving. More specifically, we append to an otherwise standard 2 × 2 Heckscher-Ohlin model of a small open economy a continuum of intermediate sectors producing nontradable goods used in tradable sectors. Those goods are produced by privately informed regulated firms. Asymmetric information induces distortions with general equilibrium impacts. The small economy becomes relatively richer in the informationally sensitive factor so that asymmetric information might reverse trade patterns. Free trade is Pareto-dominated by autarky when it exacerbates agency distortions.