I am interested in analyzing the impact of the Smoot-Hawley tariff on the U.S. economy
during the Great Depression era. This research project will examine how increased tariff rates
caused by the Smoot-Hawley tariff affected the efficiency of the capital markets. While
researchers have analyzed the impact of the Smoot-Hawley tariff at the aggregate level, the
United States as a whole, there is little research on the tariff’s significance at the regional, state,
and local levels. This project aims to address this gap by analyzing trade data of the value,
amount, and tariff rates on individual consumer products at the city and state level from 1928-
1935. I will then utilize U.S. Census data to find the share of people employed in each sector in
each city and thus match products to cities.
By analyzing disaggregated data, I will be able to determine factors such as import prices,
deadweight welfare loss, retaliatory effects, and domestic producer prices at the city level.
Therefore, this disaggregate approach will provide insight into the connection between the
Smoot-Hawley tariff and the initial bank runs in specific cities leading to the eventual failure of
the U.S. banking system during the Great Depression. Overall, this project will uncover effects
of the Smoot-Hawley tariff that are unseen at the aggregate level. It is essential that we
understand the impact of tariffs on the U.S. economy as they continue to be a point of contention
in U.S. politics. Due to today’s high levels of global interdependence, one country’s tariff rates
can have massive ripple effects. We must look to history to learn the costs of implementing
tariffs, of which Smoot-Hawley is a superb example due to its extremity, so we can make
informed decisions that optimize the U.S. and global economies.