NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Defying Gravity: The 1932 Imperial Economic Conference and the Reorientation of Canadian Trade

David S. Jacks

NBER Working Paper No. 17242
Issued in July 2011
NBER Program(s):   DAE

In the wake of the Great Depression, the Canadian government embarked on a stunning reversal in its commercial policy. A key element of its response was the promotion of intra-imperial trade at the Imperial Economic Conference of 1932. This paper addresses whether or not Canadian trade was able to defy gravity and divert trade flows towards other signatories at Ottawa. The results strongly suggest that the conference was a failure from the Canadian perspective. Potential sources of this failure include unreasonable expectations about the likely reductions in trade costs and a neglect of key considerations related to certainty and credibility.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w17242

“Defying Gravity: The 1932 Imperial Economic Conference and the Reorientation of Canadian Trade.” Explorations in Economic History, forthcoming.

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