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The Smoot-Hawley Tariff: A Quantitative Assessment

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  • Douglas A. Irwin

Abstract

In the two years after the imposition of the Smoot-Hawley tariff in June 1930, the volume of U.S. imports fell over 40 percent. To what extent can this collapse of trade be attributed to the tariff itself versus other factors such as declining income or foreign retaliation? Partial and general equilibrium assessments indicate that the Smoot-Hawley tariff itself reduced imports by 4-8 percent (ceteris paribus), although the combination of specific duties and deflation further raised the effective tariff and reduced imports an additional 8-10 percent. A counter-factual simulation suggests that nearly a quarter of the observed 40 percent decline in imports can be attributed to the rise in the effective tariff, (i.e., Smoot-Hawley plus deflation).

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 5509.

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Date of creation: Mar 1996
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Publication status: published as Review of Economics and Statistics (May 1998).
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5509

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  1. Kokoski, Mary F & Smith, V Kerry, 1987. "A General Equilibrium Analysis of Partial-Equilibrium Welfare Measures: The Case of Climate Change," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(3), pages 331-41, June.
  2. Clarida, R.H., 1992. "Cointegration, Aggregate Consumption and the Demand for Imports: A Struct ural Econometric Investigation," Discussion Papers 1992_29, Columbia University, Department of Economics.
  3. Crucini, Mario J. & Kahn, James, 1996. "Tariffs and aggregate economic activity: Lessons from the Great Depression," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(3), pages 427-467, December.
  4. Phillips, Peter C B & Loretan, Mico, 1991. "Estimating Long-run Economic Equilibria," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 58(3), pages 407-36, May.
  5. Shoven,John B. & Whalley,John, 1992. "Applying General Equilibrium," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521266550, October.
  6. Robert E. Lipsey, 1963. "Price and Quantity Trends in the Foreign Trade of the United States," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number lips63-1, May.
  7. Shiells, Clinton R, 1991. "Errors in Import-Demand Estimates Based upon Unit-Value Indexes," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 73(2), pages 378-82, May.
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Cited by:
  1. Douglas A. Irwin, 1996. "Changes in U.S. Tariffs: Prices or Policies?," NBER Working Papers 5665, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Douglas A. Irwin & Randall S. Kroszner, 1996. "Log-Rolling and Economic Interests in the Passage of the Smoot-Hawley Tariff," University of Chicago - George G. Stigler Center for Study of Economy and State 124, Chicago - Center for Study of Economy and State.
  3. Petra Moser & Alessandra Voena, 2012. "Compulsory Licensing: Evidence from the Trading with the Enemy Act," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(1), pages 396-427, February.
  4. Boffa, Mauro & Olarreaga, Marcelo, 2012. "Protectionism during the crisis: Tit-for-tat or chicken-games?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 117(3), pages 746-749.
  5. Eric W. Bond & Mario J. Crucini & Tristan Potter & Joel Rodrigue, 2012. "Misallocation and Productivity Effects of the Smoot-Hawley Tariff," NBER Working Papers 18034, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Bown, Chad P., 2014. "Trade policy instruments over time," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6757, The World Bank.

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