Over the last two centuries the United States has suffered from isolationism, protectionism and lack of leadership in creating and maintaining consistent agricultural and trade policies. From the country’s beginning an export market was taken for granted as the natural order of things and national trade policy consisted essentially of arguments over tariffs and customs duties. After more than a century of this, World War I should have awakened the United States to its potential for a new role in world affairs. Its answer was a rejection of the League of Nations in the early 1920s, followed by a reinforced protectionism throughout that decade, and by the disastrous Hawley-Smoot Tariff Act of 1929. Failed protectionist attempts to ‘make the tariff effective for agriculture’ centred on five McNary-Haugen Bills (1924–8) which included a two-price system. As an added negative effect on world trade, the United States for some years after WWI ignored its new role as the world’s chief creditor.
KeywordsSugar Depression Europe Income Shrinkage
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