The Natural Resource Content of United States Foreign Trade, 1870-1955

The Natural Resource Content of United States Foreign Trade, 1870-1955

The Natural Resource Content of United States Foreign Trade, 1870-1955

The Natural Resource Content of United States Foreign Trade, 1870-1955

Excerpt

The increasing awareness of the importance of natural resources for our national well-being and economic growth has been demonstrated by the number of studies devoted to the problem in the postwar years, and by the increasing concern of private and official institutions. In spite of the fact that our national economy depends on foreign sources for a good share of its resource supplies, and in spite of the fact that this dependence is growing continuously, the literature dealing with the specific question of foreign trade in natural resources is scanty. The purpose of this study is to fill -- within the modest means of the writer -- such a gap.

The study will be historical, examining American foreign trade in natural resources over a period of 85 years. It will not be a mere narrative of past events; rather, we want to identify the different forces that have determined the natural resource content of our foreign trade, and study their intensity.

The reader who expects to be confronted with a detailed analysis of American foreign trade in individual primary products may be somewhat disappointed. It is just the opposite approach that we have adopted in this study -- most of our analysis deals with large aggregates of commodities. One practical reason led to the aggregative approach: A detailed investigation covering United States imports and exports over a period of 85 years was not feasible. The primary objective, however, that we have pursued in dealing with aggregates, rather than individual commodities, is to suggest an alternative method of economic analysis aiming at a rapprochement between the theory of international trade and its application to empirical problems.

The classical doctrine of international economics has used extreme simplifications of reality in demonstrating its theorems. Recently, theorists have attempted to construct more comprehensive trade models . . .

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