Vilfredo Pareto Research Seminar
Tim Schmidt-Eisenlohr

Trade Credit and Markups

Tim Schmidt-Eisenlohr, Principal Economist at the Federal Reserve Board
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Maison de la paix (Geneva) Room S4, Petal 2

The Vilfredo Pareto Research Seminar is the Economics department's weekly seminar, featuring external speakers in all areas of economics.

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As part of the Vilfredo Pareto Research Seminar series, the International Economics Department at the Graduate Institute is pleased to invite you to a public talk given by Tim Schmidt-Eisenlohr, Principal Economist in the International Finance division of the Federal Reserve Board and an Affiliate of CESifo, Munich.

Mr. Schmidt-Eisenlohr will present his research work Trade Credit and Markups, coauthored with Alvaro Garcia-Marin and Santiago Justel.

Abstract: Trade credit is the most important form of short-term finance for U.S. firms. In 2017, non-financial firms had about $3 trillion in trade credit outstanding equaling 20 percent of U.S. GDP. Why do sellers lend to their buyers in the presence of a well-developed financial sector? This paper proposes an explanation for the puzzling dominance of trade credit: When sellers charge markups over production costs and financial intermediation is costly, then buyer-seller pairs can save on their overall financing costs by utilizing trade credit. We derive a model of trade credit and markups that captures this mechanism. In the model, the larger is the markup and the larger is the difference between the borrowing and the deposit rate, the more attractive is trade credit. The model also implies that trade credit use increases with repeated interactions and that this effect is stronger for complex products. Using Chilean data at the firm-level to estimate markups and at the trade-transaction level to analyze payment choices, we find strong support for the model.

Tim Schmidt-Eisenlohr is a Principal Economist in the International Finance division of the Federal Reserve Board and an affiliate of CESifo, Munich. He was previously an Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Research Fellow at the Centre for Business Taxation at the University of Oxford and a member of Nuffield College. His research focuses on international finance and trade finance but also covers international tax competition and banking. He received a Ph.D. from the European University Institute in Florence in May 2010.