Herbert Hoover photo

The President's News Conference

January 25, 1933

THE PRESIDENT. I have nothing for quotation. I thought perhaps you might be interested in some background about some things that are looming up.


There is no doubt that the countries of depreciated currency have begun to inundate some markets with goods. As in all economic phenomena of that kind, there is a good deal of lag in the result. These countries that went off the gold standard 14 months ago--the expectation would have been that the depreciation of their currency would have increased their shipment of goods to the United States. It has only begun to be enlarged in its volume during the last 4 or 5 months, and it is gradually accelerating in intensity until it has now produced definitely a very considerable unemployment and is doing further damage to agriculture.

We either have to be faced with an increase in tariffs, or alternatively, there will have to be stability in foreign currencies. In other words, We will have to increase our tariffs or other countries go back on the gold standard. That means if tariffs are increased that this country joins in the same mad race of competition, of lifting tariff walls, that has been going on in Europe for the last 18 months, and that has resulted in a great reduction in the consumption of world goods and has brought about constantly depreciating price levels. The remedy may be necessary in order to make employment in the United States and to protect the farmer, but in any event the real remedy lies in stabilization of foreign currencies. That would reverse the entire tide of depreciating price levels and would get an immediate relief in the United States. As a matter of fact, if anyone could announce tomorrow that that was going to be done, price levels would immediately rise on the report of the fact.

That whole question and other questions are involved in the debt problem. Countries that haven't the capacity to pay in cash under these circumstances at least have the capacity to give some compensation to the American people in increasing world stability and contribution to world stability instead of feeding the constant degeneration in the world. Of course there are other compensations in those cases, and of course there are countries that have the capacity to pay.

But in any event, I mention this as showing the urgency of the situation with which the country is confronted. We are confronted with other difficulties in joining in world degeneration by pushing up tariff walls, greatly diminishing the consumption of goods. In other words, the world must get some stability in international life, but that question is only one segment of the very much larger issue that confronts the world.

I think the rest of the world is beginning to realize that this race of increasing tariff walls and depreciating currencies bring ruin to everybody. There is a general disposition to front the question. Of course the World Economic Conference was originally discussed between ourselves and the British--now nearly a year ago--a year ago next April, and in the very light that if stability could be had price levels could be lifted and degeneration stopped. But first one incident in the world after another has prevented convocation of that Conference, and it is to be hoped that it should be gotten on the boards just as soon as possible. That certainly is the forum on which these matters have got to be settled, but in the meantime, the American people may find themselves in considerable difficulties from the import of goods from depreciated currency countries. Those difficulties are taking place right now in increasing unemployment in a great number of places.

That is about all I have got on my mind this morning.

Q. Mr. President, that is background?

THE PRESIDENT. All background.

Note: President Hoover's two hundred and sixty-sixth news conference was held in the White House at 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, January 25, 1933.

Herbert Hoover, The President's News Conference Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/208050

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