Shades of Smoot-Hawley

As the bill moved through Congress, formal protests from foreign countries flooded into Washington, eventually adding up to 200 pages. Both houses voted aye nonetheless. While the legislation sat on the President's desk, 1,028 American economists called for a veto. Herbert Hoover made it the law of the land anyway, swallowing his own reservations and, on June 17, signing the Tariff Act of 1930.

Known as Smoot-Hawley after its legislative sponsors, the bill promptly fulfilled the worst fears of critics. A new panic seized the already battered stock market; the slide continued for two years. In raising import duties on scores...

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