That's the protectionist legislation - with its menu of 900 tariff duty increases - that fueled the fire for the worst depression in U.S. history. As it was being considered by Congress in 1930, more than 1,000 economists, along with scores of newspaper editors, urged President Hoover not to sign the bill. He did anyway. The legislation raised duties by 20 percent (deflation raised them an additional 10 percent), and imports fell 40 percent over the next two years. As The Economist; recounted three-quarters of a century later, this "worldwide [trade] protection of the 1930s took decades to dismantle."
So here we are again. Another economic panic, this time the Great Recession, has unleashed the latest round of isolationism and nativism. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, who can't agree on the time of day, are in lockstep in their professed belief that, in the latter’s words, “foreigners are killing us on trade.” (It could have been more extreme: Bernie Sanders and Ted Cruz are arguably even more anti-trade than the official nominees.) This means no matter who gets in the White House, we’re going to see a push to reverse the pro-trade policies of the post-war era.
Timely, incisive articles delivered directly to your inbox.