Trade Lane Megacities. Geografía Económica / Economía espacial.

(Entrada en construcción)

En esta entrada compilamos algunos papers (antiguos y recientes) sobre esta disciplina y problemas abiertos.

1.Artículos o libros.

–El libro “clásico” de Geografía Económica es el de Fujita, Venables y Krugman: The Spatial Economy: Cities, Regions and International Trade, de 1999. Aquí puedes leer el capítulo introductorio.

Empiezan diciendo: In the last few years there has been a dramatic increase in research on economic geography — that is, on where economic activity occurs and why. This surge of interest has been driven to some extent by real-world concerns — the field has been given a big boost in particular by plans to unify the European market, and the attempt to understand how this deeper integration will work by comparing international economics within Europe with interregional economics within the United States. But economic geography has always been important; if it has been notably neglected by the economics profession, this is not because economists have been uninterested in the subject, but because they have regarded it as intractable. Their new willingness to work on economic geography comes from their sense that new tools — in particular, modeling tricks that have been developed to analyze industrial organization, international trade, and economic growth — have removed crucial technical barriers, and transformed a once inhospitable field into fertile ground for theorists.

Curiosamente hace años vi este libro, la versión española, casi regalado (en la zona de saldos de una famosa librería de Madrid), lo cual me sorprendió (por el prestigio de Krugman en temas de Economía / Comercio  Internacional, aunque todavía no había ganado el Nobel; reconozco que para mi los otros dos autores, Fujita y Venables, eran desconocidos), y estuve a punto de comprarlo, pero (no recuerdo por qué) finalmente no lo compré. No podía saber que me iban a interesar tanto estos temas ahora; cómo tampoco ahora se hasta cuando me interesarán: mi curiosidad es bastante veleta. Entre muchos otros también tengo este defecto.

O no tan veleta. Lo digo porque este tema de la Economía Espacial podría no estar tan alejado de otros contenidos habituales de este blog: Chapter 6 applies the same basic approach to multi-region economies — especially what we call the “racetrack” economy, a stylized economy with a large number of locations arrayed around a circle. We are able to get surprisingly clear results about this multi-region economy using an approach originally suggested by Alan Turing (1952) for the analysis of morphogenesis in biology; equally surprisingly, the Turing analysis turns out to hinge on the same analysis of symmetry-breaking that we applied in the 2-region case.

Concluyen esta introducción diciendo: What we find remarkable and gratifying in all of this is the extent to which we are able to use the same basic modeling “architecture” to address so many issues in seemingly disparate fields. But then our point is precisely that these fields are not that disparate after all: be it urban economics, location theory, or international trade, it’s all about where economic activity takes place – and why. Encuentro todo esto interesante pero todavía demasiado abstracto. Más que la Economía Espacial me interesa una Geografía Económica que se refiera a la dispersión espacial de las actividades económicas en un planeta en concreto, la Tierra, con una distribución de continentes en concreto.

–Un artículo de 2002 en la Revista ICE (Información Económica Española) sobre la llamada Nueva Geografía Económica. Título: ¿ Es la nueva geografía económica realmente nueva ? 

–En este paper (sin fecha pero posiblemente de 2005) hacen un repaso general de la Economía Espacial.


This article provides a general overview of spatial economics, which covers location theory, spatial competition, and regional and urban economics. After a brief review of the main theoretical traditions, the fundamental role of non-convexities and imperfect competition is highlighted. The main challenges faced by theoretical and empirical research are also discussed, followed by a broader discussion of the relationship between this field of research and other subfields of economics and other disciplines

–Este reciente paper de febrero de 2013 parece interesante para el problema de las Rutas Comerciales tanto en la Tierra cómo en Marte (tema sobre el que hablábamos en una entrada anterior :-)): Trade and the Topography of the Spatial Economy.  

We develop a versatile general equilibrium framework to determine the spatial distribution of economic activity on (nearly) any surface with (nearly) any geography. Combining the gravity structure of trade with labor mobility, we provide conditions for the existence and uniqueness of a spatial economic equilibrium and derive a simple set of dif erential equations which govern the relationship between economic activity and the geography of the surface. We then use the framework to identify the underlying topography of productivities and amenities both in the United States and across the world. We fi nd that geographic location is an important determinant of the observed spatial distribution of income. Finally, we show how changing the underlying geography would a ect the equilibrium distribution of economic activity.

Algunos nombres que se repiten son: Von Thünen, Weber (Alfred, hermano de Max), Marshall, Schaefer, Christaller, Alonso (modelo monocéntrico de ciudad en la economía urbana) y otros. Muchos alemanes. Se nota la carencia de nodo central cercano…

2. Problemas abiertos.

En el segundo paper de la lista anterior comentan:

What current challenges does spatial economics face? On the theoretical front, three main problems remain open.

The first is to provide a unified general equilibrium approach to spatial economics and end the often uneasy coexistence between urban systems and the new economic geography. Despite some attempts, as of 2005 there is no such unified framework, and providing one will be difficult. The main obstacles are about modelling. General equilibrium models of spatial economics entail making detailed assumptions about the spatial structure, the production structure, and the mobility of people, goods and ideas, all this under increasing returns. In such cases, nonlinearities occur everywhere and analytical solutions are the exception rather than the rule. Despite this, a general but tractable model of cities and regions is probably worth fighting for.

Es decir, explicar la emergencia de los sistemas urbanos y su localización en una economía global.

A second key challenge regards the microfoundations of trade costs. Trade costs play a fundamental role in many models but their microeconomic foundations have received only scant attention. This will probably involve looking beyond transport costs and open the black box of the multiplicity of transactions costs associated with trade between different parties.

Las economías de escala que proporciona el transporte marítimo (mucho mayores que las de cualquier otro medio de transporte) están en la base de la teoría de la Ruta Central. No hemos tenido en cuenta de momento los costes de transacción.

–A third major challenge regards the development of a ‘theory of proximity’ (for lack of a better name). Such theory would provide some answers as to why direct interactions between economic agents matter and how. Non-market interactions will no doubt loom large in any theory of proximity.

Muy cierto: el contacto directo, el conocimiento personal sigue siendo muy importante si no clave en muchas actividades.

On the empirical front,

–a first key challenge is to develop new tools for spatial analysis. With very detailed data becoming available, new tools are needed. Ideally, all the data work should be done in continuous space to avoid border biases and arbitrary spatial units. We are still a long way from being able to do so.

–The second main challenge for empirical work is of a very different nature. Applied work has over the years managed to produce a reasonable set of
estimates regarding a range of issues such as the intensity of local externalities or the determinants of urban growth, among others. No doubt, further progress is necessary and will occur but the main challenge is now to understand the mechanisms behind the elasticities or the decompositions that have been produced. For instance, the elasticity of local productivity to the
density of economic activity is now well circumscribed between two and five per cent. We ignore nearly everything about the relative importance of the possible mechanisms behind such numbers. Finally, being able to distinguish between theories – for instance, between factor endowments, urban systems and new geography to explain regional patterns of economic activity
– is also a fundamental task where research has barely begun to make progress.



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