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Fot Release on Delivery
9 E.D.Ï.

Tuesday, April 27, 1971

Through the Money-Glass

Remarks by J. Dewey Daane
Member, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
Before the Bankers1 Association for Foreign Trade
Boca Raton Hotel 6 Club
Boca Raton, Florida
on Tuesday, April 27, 1971

Through the Money-Glass
By J. Dewey Daane*

When I returned from a recent trip overseas, I found my five-year old
daughter, Whitney, feeling somewhat under the weather.
her, I said, "Cheer up, Whitney.
just take you with me."
said, "London?

Trying to console

Next time I go to London and Paris, 1*11

In response, she looked up at me in disbelief and

Who wants to go to London, you dum-dum?

I want to go to

I can fault her for lack of respect (and I can assure you that

I did!), but I certainly can't fault her judgment as to locale on this
beautiful day here in typically sunny Floridal
I am sure that the title of my talk, "Through the Money-Glass," must
have mystified at least some of you in this audience.

But I can assure

you that it was chosen deliberately not to obfuscate, but rather to light
up and bring into sharper focus my major theme here today.

For in recent

months I have once again been impressed by the fact that the way we view
our problems depends in no small part on the particular side of the lookingglass, or "money-glass"--which is what all of you and all of us at the Fed
rely on--from which one views our problems.

I think this is especially

true of the problem areas in which I have spent much of my time during the
past ten years or so, namely that of our balance of payments and of the
functioning of the international monetary system.

---Member, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.


During those years, and I am sure earlier years as well, many voices
have been raised calling essentially for a "do-nothing” policy with regard
to the United States balance of payments,

Most recently several good

friends and distinguished economists have propounded the latest version in
this series of do-nothing, or purely passive, approaches that have troubled
policy makers intellectually and otherwise over the last ten years and
have appropriated the term ”benign neglect” to describe it.

The benign

neglect approach to our payments imbalance is not new; it has appeared in
different forms and in different phases of the cycle during much of my
experience as a monetary policy maker in the United States.

Each time

that it has appeared officials may have shared the yearning for release
from constraints that it promises, but have rejected the basic theme and,
in my judgment, properly so.

For when we have examined the consequences

of accepting the prescription propounded we know that we cannot and have
had to reject it.
What is the current concept of benign neglect which its advocates
argue also could only serve to produce useful reforms of the inter­
national monetary system?

Like earlier do-nothing approaches, the benign

neglect advocates seem to be saying this:

don't pay any attention to

the balance of payments and nothing adverse will happen; other countries
will have to adjust by passively accepting dollars, willingly inflating,
going out of their way to reduce trade barriers, or more readily appreciating
their currencies.

In the meantime, at home, American monetary, financial,

and other policies should, in their words, "be exclusively guided by


internal policy objectives (high level of employment, growth, price
stability or whatever they are).1

[Underscoring mine]

In other words,

this seems to say that no matter what our domestic objectives and
policies are nothing bad can happen internationallyI
The advocates of a passive or benign neglect approach for the United
States believe that since other countries share with us an interest in
maintaining the international monetary system, they will not react by
adopting measures that would be destructive of the system.


reactions also are seen as unlikely because they may be the reverse of
the usual sorts of controls*

Restrictions on trade, for example,

presumably would be directed toward exports rather than imports, and
those on tourism directed toward limiting the amount that foreigners
could spend in the country rather than the amounts that the country's
residents could spend abroad.
As I have indicated, following the passive approach, the United States
would have no particular objective with respect to balance-of-payments
policies of other countries, and it would promise no action toward
resolving balance-of-payments problems.
Some elements in this approach, put forward mainly by certain
academicians, seem on the surface temptingly attractive.

As one who

shares your feelings about and fundamental distaste for controls, I
can sympathize with those in this audience who might at first glance
also find it appealing on that score.
run away with my best judgment.

But I cannot let my sympathy

Successive groups of officials over


the past decade have rejected this thesis and officials currently,
including myself, are just as strongly opposed.
Why have and do officials, both in the United States and in Europe,
unanimously dismiss this approach?

Just a month ago, for example,

following a meeting of Working Party 3 of the Organization for Economic
Cooperation and Development, attended by officials from leading industrial
countries, the chairman of that group, Otmar Emminger, Vice President of
the Bundesbank, reported to the press that in two days of closed meetings
among the senior monetary officials of the U.S., Europe, and Japan
’ there was no trace of what is sometimes called benign neglect (of the
payments deficit) in the statements of the U.S. officials.

Quite the

contrary, they are against passivism and so are we Europeans."


this gulf in attitude between those advocates of passivism who have no
operating responsibilities for the stability and functioning of the
international monetary system and the senior governmental officials
who do?

As one of the latter, I find the weaknesses in the benign

neglect approach very real, reflecting inadequate consideration of all
the important implications and ramifications of such an approach.


the other side, the official side, of the money-glass the view must be
broader and the relevant considerations are more numerous.
First, the thesis starts from the premise that one needs to look
only at what others might ”do to us" as a result of our adopting a
purely passive attitude towards deficits in the U.S. balance of payments.
But this ignores what we might be doing to ourselves by this passivity


about the role and standing of the dollar.
in exchange markets and the international




good for anyone interested in healthy long-run growth




be no

trade, and


less so for the United States where we are in the beginning stages of a
recovery that could be vulnerable to any additional uncertainties.


can we be oblivious to rapid growth in our short-term liabilities or
the competitive position in our own and foreign markets.
Second, another and broader question can be raised as to the effect
of a passive policy on the structure of international economic and
political cooperation.

In the financial area such cooperation has been

the hallmark of the postwar period and has led to the strengthening of
the system, most notably in the fruition of arrangements for Special
Drawing Rights to provide a way to deliberately create needed reserve

In opting for passivity we certainly would lose our leadership

role in working toward new international monetary arrangements.


risks in not working cooperatively toward a further strengthening of
the international monetary system are substantial.

In particular we

would be incurring the risk that any changes in the system would be
undertaken only in some unforeseen crisis period rather than as a result
of calm and deliberate negotiations.

We must have an atmosphere in

which we can work cooperatively toward a strengthening of the inter­
national monetary system.
But the network of financial cooperation has served to underpin
much more in terms of political and other relationships so vital to


world peace.

While I do not accept the mirage that even in the limited

context of international monetary relationships there might be little
that could be !done to us,1 in any event our interests do not end here.
There are many other not purely economic or financial issues in which
international cooperation is crucial.

Even more important are our

political relationships with the rest of the free world.

The possibility

of a severe deterioration in our diplomatic and political relations abroad
has been virtually ignored by the advocates of benign neglect.
Third, the do-nothing approach assumes that foreign central banks
and governments have no options that would or should be unacceptable to
the United States, primarily because of the foreign interest in maintaining
a viable international monetary system.
the question.

This, however, seems to me to beg

For my part I am sure that there are choices available to

our foreign friends, choices outside of those tending to bring down the
international monetary system.

Thus I think other countries might very

well find a way to avoid a dollar standard, turning more and more to
restrictions on trade and capital with the European Community providing
the principal vehicle for this range of choices and perhaps becoming
more inward looking as a result.

Other countries firmly believe that

the U.S. deficit adds to their difficulties in maintaining independent
monetary policies and restraining their inflationary pressures.


adverse psychological effect of our blithely turning to benign neglect
could indeed provoke retaliation in both the narrower and broader
context of foreign economic relations.


Fourth, and related to this last observation, an attitude of benign
neglect would be most damaging in one very specific international

This is the effort to create an international reserve asset

in the form of Special Drawing Rights.

After long international negotia­

tions, this international reserve instrument made its appearance in 1970,
with an initial decision to create $9.5 billion of SDRfs over a threeyear period.

It was designed to provide the major element in the growth

of international reserves and furnish the basis for a smoother working
adjustment process.

But if the United States were to make no effort

to moderate the growth in foreign dollar reserves, over a period of
years, the future of the SDR would not be promising.

The result could

well be a backward move for the entire international monetary system.
The first truly international effort to cope with the world's needs
for an ultimate monetary reserve asset on a worldwide basis, with the
participation of all IMF member nations in a common endeavor, could be
Fifth and finally, there seems to me implicit in the thinking of
many who embrace a passive approach to our U.S. balance-of-payments
problem the implication that we can ignore the international repercussions
at least of domestic inflation and do not need to fight the battle of
inflation quite as hard as we might otherwise do.
categorically reject this view.

Again, I would

My own belief is that we must press

even harder to achieve relatively greater price stability than other
industrial countries of the world.

This does not mean that there are not responsibilities on both

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, 1 will repeat

what has been said so many times, that surplus countries, too, have
their responsibilities for achieving the sort of policy blending that
will produce domestic stability with the least possible adverse impact

Other countries as well as the United States have

relied too much from time to time on monetary policy.

Perhaps more

needs to be done to devise ways to coordinate policies to affect inter­
national flows in ways supportive of rather than disturbing to national
economies and the international monetary system.

Some of those who advise the U.S. to ignore its balance of payments
have suggested that, "Well, after all, the U.S. has been following a
passive policy with no untoward consequences."
issue with this thesis.

I would take sharp

First, by way of background, let me note that

the United States, through its demand management policies, temporarily
accepted a growth rate much below our potential in the interest of
halting a disruptive inflation inimical to sustainable long-term growth;
while relative price stability has been and is a domestic objective, it
is surely also a sine qua non for balance-of-payments improvement and we
have not been oblivious of this aspect of an improved price performance.
And again with a duality of benefit we have moved a considerable distance
towards an incomes policy to reinforce our efforts to achieve price
Second, we have deliberately directed ease toward the longer term
rather than short term markets.

The Treasury's debt management and the

Federal Reserve's tailoring of open market operations have emphasized
issuance of short debt and purchases of coupon issues.

This is consistent

with a convergence of interest rate movements internationally that can
help to stabilize the international flows of short-term funds accounting
for a large portion of both deficits and surpluses in some of the
accounting measures of the balance of payments.
Third, we have attempted, by Export-Import Bank offerings and
Treasury offerings of securities now totaling $3 billion, to intercept
outflows in the form of possible repayments of Eurodollars borrowed by


U.S. banks from overseas branches before these Eurodollars reached the
hands of central banks abroad.
Fourth, we have maintained the capital controls programs virtually
unchanged and have extended the interest equalization tax.
Fifth, Congress may well authorize the proposal for a Domestic
International Sales Corporation (DISC), which I know has your support,
and efforts are going forward to make U.S. export credit facilities
more competitive.
Sixth and finally, looking ahead, it is my judgment that if the
economy were to require further stimulus--and it is not clear now that
it does--balance-of-payments considerations would call for such stimulus
to come from the fiscal side and I would hope and expect that is where
such stimulus would originate, specifically in the tax area.
Listening to this discourse, some of you undoubtedly would ask why,
in the light of these measures, does our balance-of-payments performance
continue to be unsatisfactory?

Here I think it is necessary to distinguish

between our basic balance and the more transitory problem of short-term
capital flows.

Last year our basic deficit was in the neighborhood of

$2-1/2 - 3 billion.

Obviously, this is not a satisfactory showing,

although it is not significantly larger than the average of the past
five years.

And the U.S. current account surplus, excluding Government

1/The b&jic balaaco may be defined as the balance on current and
long-term capital account transactions.


grants, totaled some $2.3 billion in 1970, at least a billion dollars or
more higher than the 1968-69 average.
To further inveigh a bit against the prophets of gloom and doom re
our basic balance, it can be noted that the basic balance-of-payments
positions in Europe while not weak are not especially strong.

A major

part of the offsetting surpluses to our basic deficit is probably to be
found in Canada and Japan.

Continental European basic surpluses have

been held down by U.S. restraints on long-term capital outflows,
especially for direct investment.

Even in Germany the current account

surplus in 1970 was about half as much as in 1969.

Wage and price

movements in Europe now suggest a more rapid pace of inflation, both
present and prospectively, relative to the United States.

Thus it is

possible to take a relatively optimistic view of our balance of
payments provided we continue to make the efforts which I have noted
and do not heed the sirens of benign neglect.
Those who look at the more exaggerated figures of our balance-ofpayments deficit on an official settlements basis, which totaled around
$10 billion in 1970 (including SDR allocations), sometimes fail to
recognize that in no small part this was an expected reversal of the
short-term inflows of 1969.

The average deficit on an official settle­

ments basis for the 1968-70 period was about $2 billion.

The short-term

capital flow problem, while it is a serious one both affecting the
internal economies of the European countries and also having an adverse
impact on the functioning of the international monetary system, is


fundamentally different from the basic balance-of-payments problem.
It results from the acknowledged need and desire of countries in

cyclical situations to maintain monetary and interest rate

policies keyed to their own domestic requirements.

In 1970-71 this has

meant substantial differentials between U.S. interest rates, which have
been relatively low reflecting our need for economic stimulus, and
interest rates in certain European countries which have been high,
reflecting a desire for continued restraint in those countries.
In short, these divergent monetary policies have been the major
source of the massive U.S. official settlements deficit in 1970.


with available techniques for dealing with short-term capital flows,
all nations must be prepared to ride out large swings in payments
positions in such divergent cyclical situations.

If an expansion of

the U.S. economy this year is accompanied by a firming of U.S. money
markets and there is an easing of monetary conditions in foreign financial
centers, our U.S. official settlements deficit should be substantially

Questions of the appropriate policy mix as between fiscal and

monetary policy are relevant for all advanced countries, not merely for
the United States.
Recognizing that there are no quick or easy answers to world balanceof-payments adjustment problems, we in the U.S. are carrying out our part
of collective responsibility for an improved structure.

Orderly growth

with price stability in the United States is an essential underpinning
to such improvement.

The extremes of slack in, or overheating of, our


economy would offer no salvation for the balance of payments.


combination of orderly growth with relatively better price stability
than others in the years ahead should move the United States along
the desired path toward a stronger current and basic balance position.
At the same time, we are also conscious of the need to work
cooperatively to improve the system's ability to adapt to and deal with
short-term capital flows.

This attitude was evidenced in the President's

report on "U.S. Foreign Policy in the 1970's" in which he listed the
objective of cooperation in the monetary sphere "to handle large-scale
shifts of liquid capital without exchange crises or losses in the
ability of individual nations to pursue their monetary policies."


the President called for "an intensive examination to determine whether
there is need to reinforce the present techniques and procedures of
international monetary cooperation to enable us better to cope with
such movements."

Examinations are in fact now going forward in a number

of different forums, including the Working Party 3 of OECD and the Bank
for International Settlements.
Admittedly, however, the U.S. basic balance remains unsatisfactory,
reflecting serious deterioration in our trade surplus from the levels of
the early I960's.

A primary cause of this past deterioration, pointed

up in recent studies by our Reserve Board staff, was the inflationary
boom of the late 1960's which is only now coming under control.


more, as I have indicated, this deterioration shows up heavily in our
trade with Japan and Canada, although European agricultural policies may


present the threat of further deterioration.

Another major cause of our

continuing unsatisfactory current account performance, of course, is
our continuing large military defense burden, particularly relative to
that borne by Europe and Japan.

Despite their surpluses, many other

developed countries still have restrictions limiting their imports from

In a broader sense, countries with large current surpluses share

our problem of having to make decisions and play their proper role in
making the international system, namely the adjustment process, work
more effectively.

This applies not only in the trade restrictions area

but in the area of foreign aid and capital outflows.
This brings me full circle in my remarks here this morning.

I began

by indicating that I did not believe that ignoring its balance of payments
was the appropriate policy course for the United States today anY more
than it has been all along.

I then pointed out that, contrary to the

opinion of some, we have not been following such a so-called benign neglect
policy but have been working individually and collectively in cooperation
with other countries to deal with the world balance-of-payments adjustment
problem and the short-term capital flows which magnified our apparent
imbalance last year.

And I hope that I indicated that in my view there

is no reason to become so unduly discouraged by recent statistics as to
abandon the long struggle we have carried on to move toward equilibrium
in our balance of payments.
Lest I be accused, however, of neglect, benign or otherwise, of some
of .your own views revealed in your statement of policy less than a year


ago, let me close by saying that I find much to commend in that statement.
The U.S. position on the desirability of keeping under examination the
question of limited exchange rate flexibility is well known.

Your call

for an objective reassessment of U.S. balance-of-payments accounting has
been heeded and an interagency group of experts has been at work on this

My use today ofvthe "basic balance" concept reflects this

continuing work.

I personally share and warmly commend your feelings

about the disadvantages of protectionism which you expounded in your
last year's policy statement.

With reference to the Export-Import Bank,

the one specific proposal in your policy statement has been implemented,
namely, that U.S. banks now have the option of using export paper as
collateral in order to borrow from the Export-Import Bank or of selling
the paper with recourse to the Ex-Im Bank.

On DISC, your call for

legislative action was not heeded despite Administration, notably Treasury,
efforts supporting it.

Again, on Private Export Funding Corporation (PEFCO)

which you endorsed, this is, as you know, on its way into being and should
be operating soon.
Finally I would be remiss here today if I did not take note of your
policy statement of last year about the VFCR to the effect that it
"continues to be a serious barrier to and restraint on the expansion of
this nation's foreign trade and we recommend that the program be terminated
as soon as possible . . . .At the very least, we urge that export credits
be exempted."


As long as the VFCR has been in existence, the Board has watched
its application carefully to ensure that the balance-of-payments gains
were not achieved at excessive cost.

In this constant review, the

relationship between the restraint on lending to foreigners and U.S.
export performance has been given special attention by the Board.
Last fall, looking toward the end of the year, when decisions are
normally taken by the Government on possible continuation of the capital
restraints programs and of possible changes in the levels of the
restraints, the Board undertook a thorough study of the possible
effect of the VFCR during 1970 on U.S. bank export financing and on
U.S. exports.

Developed with the cooperation of the Commerce Department,

the survey led to our asking specific questions of banks that account
for over nine-tenths of foreign lending, of exporters who were said to
have been denied credit on behalf of foreign buyers, and of a crosssection of other exporters who might have sought financing for foreign

The inquiry revealed strikingly that the Program was not

having any substantially adverse effect on U.S. exports.
In order to go into the export effects question further, the Board
was interested in information that might show how much effort was being
made by banks in carrying out the longstanding request in the VFCR
Guidelines that, within their Guideline ceilings, banks give priority
to credits that finance U.S. exports.

In a separate inquiry, the Board

learned that outstanding documented credit subject to VFCR ceilings and
extended to foreigners to finance purchases from the United States


accounted for less than one-fifth of all outstanding bank credit under
the Program.

This fraction represents an average for widely differing

bank situations and is subject to data limitations.

But it may be taken

as indicative of the performance of the U.S. banking community as a
Clearly then I do not share the judgment of this group as to the
costs of our own Federal Reserve VFCR program.

Even more importantly,

as I have already indicated, continuance of our capital control programs
-- the VFCR along with the interest equalization tax and the foreign
direct investment program administered by the Department of Commerce -are an integral part of our policy of non-neglect of our balance of

But I would cheerfully concede that these programs alone

cannot be effective unless we persist, as I am certain we will, in our
efforts to contain inflation.

As these efforts begin to produce results,

then you in BAFT as well as we in the Fed and our foreign counterparts
will find the answer is in the performance of our economy at home, and
in particular the performance of our trade and current account.


appreciable increase in investment here in the United States, as the
safest and most rewarding haven for short- and long-term funds, will
provide offsets to our own outflows.

More generally, as the rest of

the balance of payments improves, we may then look forward to relaxing
the capital controls program.
On this happy note, let me once again thank you for the privilege
of being with this very fine group in this lovely setting.