The Foreign Policy of Lyndon B. Johnson: The United States and the World, 1963-1969

By Jonathan Colman | Go to book overview

CHAPTER NINE
Dollars and Gold: Monetary and Trade Policy

American foreign policy in the Cold War was concerned primarily with national security conceived in military and political terms, but economic and financial issues had an intimate role. This was evident in the delicate question in 1966–7 of how far Bonn would ‘offset’ the cost of American troops in the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG). The failure to resolve this issue would intensify pressure in the United States to withdraw troops, but such withdrawals might lead to the FRG adopting destabilising bilateral or unilateral foreign policies (see Chapter Five). This chapter outlines the international monetary regime of the 1960s and then explores the chronic US balance of payments deficit, due in large part to defence spending in Europe and Asia. There is an assessment of the economic crisis of 1967–8, which arose initially from the devaluation of sterling and left the dollar exposed to speculative attack. The Johnson Administration exploited continued American influence and succeeded in the establishment of a two-tier gold market and the creation of a new international currency known as Special Drawing Rights (SDR).1 Finally, there is coverage of the Administration’s successful effort to liberalise trade among the developed countries through the Kennedy Round of tariff negotiations under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). As with international monetary reform, the Kennedy Round involved intensive collaboration and negotiation with allies. The results achieved in these areas appear all the more creditable against a background that included, for example, strains in the NATO alliance, war in the Middle East, continued crisis in Vietnam, the British abrogation of a global defence role and social upheaval in the United States.2

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