Pandemics and trade in the 21st Century: Evidence from five pre-Covid pandemics

João Tovar Jalles, Georgios Karras

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Early evidence suggests that COVID-19 caused a sharp decrease in international trade and a widening of current account imbalances. This paper shows that (qualitatively) similar responses have characterized the effects of previous pandemics. Using data from a sample of 170 countries, we find that a pandemic shock is typically followed by a sizable decrease in output and trade volumes, but an uneven current account response: balances improve in developed (or surplus) economies but deteriorate in developing (or deficit) ones. We also explore potential mechanisms for this asymmetry, and our evidence is pointing to national saving and the business cycle phase as the main reasons behind the divergent current account dynamic responses.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)895–918
Number of pages24
JournalOpen Economies Review
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2023


  • Pandemics
  • Current account
  • Local projection
  • Panel data
  • Recessions
  • Nonlinearilities


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