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The Nixon Shock after Forty Years: The Import Surcharge Revisited

  • Douglas A. Irwin

On August 15, 1971, President Richard Nixon closed the gold window and imposed a 10 percent surcharge on all dutiable imports in an effort to force other countries to revalue their currencies against the dollar. The import surcharge was lifted four months later after the Smithsonian agreement led to new exchange rate parities. This paper examines the political, economic, and legal issues surrounding the import surcharge. This historical episode may shed light on the possible use of trade sanctions as part of the effort to get China to allow the renminbi to appreciate more rapidly.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 17749.

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Date of creation: Jan 2012
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Irwin, Douglas A., 2013. "The Nixon shock after forty years: the import surcharge revisited," World Trade Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 12(01), pages 29-56, January.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17749
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  1. Officer, Lawrence H., 1993. "A Retrospective on the Bretton Woods System: Lessons for International Monetary Reform. Edited by Michael D. Bordo and Barry Eichengreen. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993. Pp. xiii, 675. $75," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 53(03), pages 672-673, September.
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