Did the Smoot-Hawley Tariff enable the United States export economy to boom in 1932?

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

No, the Smoot-Hawley Tariff did not allow the US exporting economy to boom in 1932 or in any other year.  A tariff is very unlikely ever to cause a country’s exporting economy to boom.  A tariff is usually meant to keep other countries’ goods out of the country that passes it.  Typically, what happens when one country passes a tariff is that other countries pass them too.  Country A will never want to buy Country B’s goods if Country B has a tariff keeping Country A’s goods out. 

This is exactly what happened with the Smoot-Hawley Tariff.  Other countries erected their own tariff barriers, partly to retaliate against the US and partly because they thought tariffs could help keep their domestic economies afloat.  They were all generally wrong and the exporting markets generally dried up, making the Depression worse.

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