Roosevelt, Franklin Delano 1882–1945

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Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Franklin Roosevelt adopted several major policies while U.S. president (1933–1945) that helped to expand the world economy: he removed the United States from the gold standard, signed a series of reciprocal trade agreements, and joined forces with the Allies during World War II.

Mired in the Great Depression, the Roosevelt administration devalued the dollar and went off a malfunctioning gold standard in March 1933. The move allowed the Federal Reserve to redirect monetary policy toward providing stimulus to the domestic economy, which contributed to the U.S. recovery and aided expansions in other nations.

The Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930 and protectionist responses by other nations had caused a downward spiral in world trade. After passing the Reciprocal Trade Agreement (RTA) Act of 1934, the United States signed a series of tariff-reduction agreements with key trading partners. U.S. imports rose from a twenty-year low in 1932 to 1933 to an unprecedented high by 1940.

During World War II Roosevelt called for the United States to become the great "Arsenal of Democracy." Under the Lend-Lease Act in early 1941 the administration offered munitions, food, and other aid on generous terms to its allies. The U.S. entry into the war sped the defeat of Germany, Italy, and Japan, ending the destruction that had brought the world economy to a grinding halt.

SEE ALSO Gold Standard;Great Depression of the 1930s; Hoover, Herbert.


Eichengreen, Barry. Golden Fetters: The Gold Standard and the Depression, 1919–1939. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992.

Irwin, Doug. "From Smoot-Hawley to Reciprocal Trade Agreements." In The Defining Moment: The Great Depression and the American Economy in the Twentieth Century, ed. Michael D. Bordo; Claudia Goldin; and Eugene N. White. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998.

Kennedy, David M. Freedom from Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929–1945. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.

Kindleberger, Charles. The World in Depression, 1929–1939. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1973.

Price V. Fishback

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Roosevelt, Franklin Delano 1882–1945

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