From Smoot-Hawley to Reciprocal Trade Agreements: Changing the Course of U.S. Trade Policy in the 1930s
Four years after passing the infamous Smoot-Hawley tariff in 1930, Congress enacted the Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act (RTAA), which gave the president the authority to undertake tariff-reduction agreements (without Congressional approval) with foreign countries. The resulting trade agreements reduced U.S. tariffs and culminated in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) in 1947. Was the Great Depression responsible for bringing about this fundamental shift in U.S. trade policy? This paper analyzes the changes in U.S. trade policy during this period and argues that (i) the Depression as an international phenomenon motivated the unprecedented Congressional delegation of tariff-making powers, (ii) economic changes more the result of World War II than the Depression blunted Republican opposition to the RTAA and ensured its post-war survival.
|Date of creation:||Jan 1997|
|Date of revision:|
|Publication status:||published as Bordo, Michael D., Claudia Goldin, and Eugene N. White (eds.) The Defining Moment: The Great Depression and the American Economy in the Twentieth Century. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1998.|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.|
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- Crucini, Mario J, 1994. "Sources of Variation in Real Tariff Rates: The United States, 1900-1940," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 732-43, June.
- Crucini, M.J. & Kahn, J., 1994.
"Tarrifs and Aggregate Economic Activity: Lessons from the Great Depression,"
RCER Working Papers
383, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
- 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.
- Haggard, Stephan, 1988. "The institutional foundations of hegemony: explaining the Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act of 1934," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 42(01), pages 91-119, December.
- Callahan, Colleen M. & McDonald, Judith A. & O'Brien, Anthony Patrick, 1994. "Who Voted For Smoot-Hawley?," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 54(03), pages 683-690, September.
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