Trade and Payments in Western Europe: A Study in Economic Cooperation, 1947-51

By William Diebold Jr. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER SEVEN
FINEBEL, UNISCAN AND OTHER ATTEMPTS AT COOPERATION

The story of the three successive multilateral payments agreements and the EPU is the main thread of the attempt of the OEEC countries to cooperate on measures to finance trade among themselves. But the analysis of these instruments does not exhaust the subject. Many alterations in the payments agreements or creation of wholly different arrangements were suggested before EPU was adopted. Arthur Smithies of Harvard, a former ECA official, has suggested a payments union in which the credits a country had to advance would be related to the improvement of its dollar earnings (or contraction of its dollar loss) in intra-European trade in some previous year. Richard Kahn of Cambridge has recommended wiping out credits every six months or so by a full dollar settlement, after reducing a country's nominal debt by a "European discount" determined by the dollar position of the area. The discount would be smaller as Western Europe moved toward full convertibility of its currencies with the dollar. Pasquale Saraceno of the Istituto di Ricostruzione Industriale in Rome submitted to the ECE a plan for the creation of new instruments of medium-term credit that would permit countries with capital to invest, like Switzerland or Belgium, to finance part of the trade between other countries. Eamon de Valera proposed a periodical cancellation of intra-European credit balances. In December 1949 the Committee on Economics Questions of the Strasbourg Assembly proposed a payments system with a strong family resemblance to EPU, but couples with a European Stabilization Fund which would take the first steps toward

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