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Interests, Institutions, and Ideology in the Republican Conversion to Trade Liberalization, 1934-1945

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  • Douglas A. Irwin
  • Randall S. Kroszner

Abstract

This paper investigates the factors explaining significant policy change by studying how bipartisan support developed to sustain the Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act (RTAA) of 1934. The RTAA fundamentally transformed both the process and outcome of U.S. trade policy: Congress delegated its authority over tariff-setting to the president sharply toward trade liberalization. The durability of this change was achieved only when the Republicans, long-time supporters of high tariffs who originally vowed to repeal the RTAA, began to support this Democratic initiative in the 1940s. In seeking to explain this conversion, we find little evidence of an ideological shift among Republicans, but rather an increased sensitivity to export interests for which the institutional structure of the RTAA itself may have been responsible. Our results suggest that analyzing changes in both institutional incentives and economic interests are important for understanding lasting change in economic policy.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 6112.

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Date of creation: Jul 1997
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6112

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  1. Weingast, Barry R & Shepsle, Kenneth A & Johnsen, Christopher, 1981. "The Political Economy of Benefits and Costs: A Neoclassical Approach to Distributive Politics," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(4), pages 642-64, August.
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Cited by:
  1. Lei (Sandy) Ye, 2007. "U.S. Trade Policy and the Pacific Rim, from Fordney-McCumber to the Trade Expansion Act of 1962: A Political-Economic Analysis," Discussion Papers 07-001, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
  2. Jennifer Tobin & Susan Rose-Ackerman, 2003. "Foreign Direct Investment and the Business Environment in Developing Countries: the Impact of Bilateral Investment Treaties," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series 587, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.

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