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An Elephant in the Garden: The Allies, Spain, and Oil in World War II

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  • Leonard Caruana
  • Hugh Rockoff

Abstract

During World War II the Allies controlled Spain's oil supply in order to limit Spain's support for the Axis. This experiment with sanctions is unusually informative because a wide range of policies was tried over a long period. Three episodes are of special interest: (1) a total embargo on oil for Spain in 1940 that was surprisingly successful in dissuading Spain from joining the Axis; (2) a period of reduced supplies in 1941-42 that we call "the Squeeze" that was only partially successful; and (3) a second total embargo in 1944 that was a disappointment for the Allies, given the course of the war, that produced a rift between Churchill and Roosevelt. Our analysis is based on new monthly estimates of Spain's imports of gasoline and other petroleum products, which we describe in the text and report in the appendix. These estimates allow us to draw a clearer picture of the oil sanctions than has been possible in the past.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 12228.

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Date of creation: May 2006
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Publication status: published as Caruana, Leonard & Rockoff, Hugh, 2007. "An elephant in the garden: The Allies, Spain, and oil in World War II," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 11(02), pages 159-187, August.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12228

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