Trade, Aid, or What? A Report Based upon a Conference on International Economic Policy at the Merrill Center for Economics, Summer, 1953

By Willard L. Thorp | Go to book overview

CHAPTER I
Problems and Objectives

THE ECONOMIC DISORDER

WHEN the war ended in 1945, both production and trade had fallen to low levels over large parts of the world. In spite of many difficulties, industrial production recovered rapidly in most countries. The resumption of international trade was slower and by 1917 the volume of the total imports of the principal countries of western Europe still remained 15 per cent below the 1938 level and the volume of their exports was 33 per cent below 1938. During the years 1947 to 1951, there was a remarkable improvement, stimulated and facilitated by the European Recovery Program, but representing a real expansion in both production and trade far beyond the actual dimensions of that program. By 1951, the volume of imports of the same group of' countries was 15 per cent above the level of 1938 and the volume of exports was 51 per cent above it. During the same period, the volume of exports from the United States had risen to more than double that of prewar, while the volume of imports had advanced more slowly to about 50 per cent above the 1936-38 level.

The postwar increases in production and trade varied greatly from country to country both in extent and in timing. However, it is fair to say that progress was spectacular despite all the difficulties of war destruction and disorganization. In 1951, abnormal price gyrations, inventory accumulation, and stepping up of military programs induced by the Korean War

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