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Henry Judd

U.S.-British Conference Ends
With Dollar Crisis Unsolved

(19 September 1949)

From Labor Action, Vol. 13 No. 38, 19 September 1949, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

With a series of minor concessions which barely touch upon the core of the real problem, the Three-Power economic conference has come to a conclusion. At best, stop-gap measures intended to alleviate, but hardly cure, the drainage of dollars and reserves from England have been taken. No one is quite sure what their effect will be nor how the whole thing will turn out. Meanwhile the conference turns to other problems involving Far Eastern policy, the empire, etc.

The United States is to increase its purchase of raw materials (stockpiling materials) from the colonies and dominions of the empire. This will help the empire by making more dollars available. Such a “magnanimous” gesture on the part of America will, of course, assist the American monopolization and control of world raw material supplies.

The United States agreed to “facilitate” the import of British goods into America by revising its customs procedures. This loosely worded proposal does not mean any lowering of tariff barriers, to be sure. At the same time, England is to be permitted to purchase certain items elsewhere (in Europe, for example); or to purchase wheat from Canada, where prices are lower. This eases up slightly certain clauses of the Marshall Plan Act which restricted British purchases largely to the United States. The sole effect of such concessions might be to increase slightly British exports to America and lower British need for dollars by permitting “outside” purchases. No figures were given as to precisely how much this will be.

Finally, various minor fillips are to be given toward encouraging the flow of dollar capital into England and other British areas. This will be in the form of private investments, possible bank loans in accord with the now famous (but still unemployed) Point 4 for development of backward areas, etc.

What all this means in a concrete sense can be determined only by the future. By contrast with the real problem – that of developing some kind of a balance between what England produces, what it exports and what it imports – we can say that little or no progress was made. The immediate, pressing, emergency situation will, at best, be met and the rate at which England is losing the balance of its resources will be slowed down. To see how little was accomplished, it is only necessary to point out that nothing was done about the issues of devaluation, loans, tariff reforms, economic unity and the coming end of Marshall Plan aid in 1952.

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