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French Firms' Exports During Downturns: Evidence from Past Crises


  • This research was conducted when Dimitri Bellas was intern at the Banque de France. The views expressed in this paper are those of the authors and do not represent the views of the Banque de France.


This paper makes use of detailed French firm-level data on a quarterly basis to investigate the impact of past crises on exports and the margins of adjustment. We first detect crises periods using quantitative criteria and classify them into banking crises, currency crises, simultaneous banking and currency crises, and other crises. Our results underline the prevalence of the intensive margin of adjustment to large shocks, that is, firms reducing their average sales per product while staying on the market. The extensive margin of trade is, however, dominant in currency crises. On average, a crisis reduces the growth rate of exports over six quarters. Finally, we show that exports overreact to demand variations during crises, and that the extensive margin is more responsive to demand. Other factors, not directly related to demand, mostly affect the intensive margin.