NO BOOK can reproduce the excitement of a lively discussion. When such discussions have continued for eight weeks, the most that can be done is to try to recapture as many of the considerations, complications, and evaluations as possible. There is little room for the countless illustrations or the spontaneous bits of humor which gave life to the hours spent around the conference table. But such prolonged discussions were bound to give new contours and perspectives to many problems and these are worth reporting.
The Merrill Center for Economics held its opening exercises on June 28, 1953. The discussion began the following morning and continued vigorously for eight weeks. The central topic was "Trade, Aid, or What?" and there were forty-five conferees, selected on the basis of their ability to contribute to the discussions. In addition, fourteen specially invited guest speakers led discussions on particular subjects.1 The sessions were divided roughly into three main categories dealing respectively, if not respectfully, with commercial policy, exchange policy, and foreign investment policy. The number of conferees participating in the discussion of each of these areas ranged from twenty-one to twenty-seven.
No agenda was prepared in advance and the first task of each group was to settle on the problems within its broad area which it wished to discuss. No report was planned and no effort was made to force a consensus. It was a conference of experts for the purpose of discovering their agreements and exploring their disagreements, based on the assumption that the project would sufficiently justify itself through the reflection of such an intensive interchange in the subsequent activity of the conferees as teachers, writers, advisors, business men and public servants.____________________