10 scary market moments

9. U.S. grain embargo (1980)

In January 1980, the Carter administration announced a grain embargo purportedly designed to punish the U.S.S.R. for its invasion of Afghanistan. Under the embargo, the U.S. could sell only eight million tons of grain to the Soviet Union each year (as guaranteed under the 1975 U.S.-Soviet Grain Agreement).

Despite dry weather that harmed the Soviet harvest that year, the U.S.S.R. skirted the embargo and simply imported more grain from South American and European countries. The U.S. commodity markets didn’t fare as well, however, as grain prices dropped in response to decreased export demand. Shortly after being elected, Ronald Reagan lifted the embargo.

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