IMF Economic Review

, Volume 67, Issue 4, pp 703–745 | Cite as

The Great Recession and a Missing Generation of Exporters

  • William F. LincolnEmail author
  • Andrew H. McCallum
  • Michael Siemer
Research Article


We study the impact of foreign market entry and exit by firms on the trajectory of U.S. exports during and after the Great Recession. Using confidential microdata from the U.S. Census Bureau, we find that incumbent exporters were primarily responsible for the changes in aggregate foreign sales during these years. While there was a substantial decline in the number of firms that sold abroad in the midst of the crisis, new exporters during the recovery compensated for this by having larger foreign sales. Thus, while changes in foreign market participation drove substantial shifts in the variety of U.S. goods that were exported, overall they were less important for the trajectory of total foreign sales over time.


Great recession Business cycles Exports Entry Exit Firm dynamics 

JEL Classification

F10 F40 E32 E44 J2 



Any opinions and conclusions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the U.S. Census Bureau, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, or any other person associated with the Federal Reserve System. All results have been reviewed to ensure that no confidential information is disclosed. We thank George Alessandria, Lukasz Drozd, Matt Freedman, Fariha Kamal, Kei-Mu Yi, Jing Zhang, and participants at the IMF conference “Globalization in the Aftermath of the Crisis” for helpful suggestions. We also thank the staff at the U.S. Census Bureau, particularly Joelle Abramowitz, Clint Carter, Chris Galvan, Bert Grider, Maggie Levenstein, Stephanie A. Pullés, Danielle Vesia, and William Wisniewski. Jessica C. Liu, Noah P. Mathews, Michael A. Navarrete, and Victoria Perez-Zetune provided excellent research assistance. Support for this research at the University of Michigan Research Data Center from NSF(ITR-0427889) is also gratefully acknowledged.


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Copyright information

© International Monetary Fund 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • William F. Lincoln
    • 1
    Email author
  • Andrew H. McCallum
    • 2
  • Michael Siemer
    • 2
  1. 1.Robert Day SchoolClaremont McKenna CollegeClaremontUSA
  2. 2.Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve SystemWashingtonUSA

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