Original Article

Journal of Economic Interaction and Coordination

, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp 111-124

First online:

Patterns of dominant flows in the world trade web

  • M. Ángeles SerranoAffiliated withInstitute of Theoretical Physics Email author 
  • , Marián BoguñáAffiliated withDepartament de Física Fonamental, Universitat de Barcelona
  • , Alessandro VespignaniAffiliated withSchool of Informatics, Indiana UniversityComplex Network Lagrange Laboratory (CNLL), Institute for Scientific Interchange (ISI)

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The large-scale organization of the world economies is exhibiting increasing levels of local heterogeneity and global interdependency. Understanding the relation between local and global features calls for analytical tools able to uncover the global emerging organization of the international trade network. Here we analyze the world network of bilateral trade imbalances and characterize its overall flux organization, unraveling local and global high-flux pathways that define the backbone of the trade system. We develop a general procedure capable to progressively filter out in a consistent and quantitative way the dominant trade channels. This procedure is completely general and can be applied to any weighted network to detect the underlying structure of transport flows. The trade fluxes properties of the world trade web determine a ranking of trade partnerships that highlights global interdependencies, providing information not accessible by simple local analysis. The present work provides new quantitative tools for a dynamical approach to the propagation of economic crises.