Export Prices and Export Cartels (Webb-Pomerene Associations)

By Milton Gilbert; Paul D. Dickens | Go to book overview

LETTER OF TRANSMITTAL

AUGUST 23, 1940.

The Honorable Senator JOSEPH C. O'MAHONEY,
Chairman, Temporary National Economic Committee,
Washington, D. C.

Mr DEAR SENATOR: I have the honor to transmit herewith a study on some phases of Export Prices and Export Cartels ( Webb-Pomerene Associations). In this volume there are gathered together three reports, two by the Department of Commerce and one by the Federal Trade Commission. When these were submitted to the Subcommittee on Printing and Review of the Temporary National Economic Committee, it approved them for printing with the stipulation that they be combined into one volume, prefaced by an explanatory introductory statement, which I submit herewith.

The field of foreign trade has traditionally been beset with controversies and arguments about tariffs, reciprocal trade agreements, international prices, monopolistic exchange controls, exchange dumping, quotas, barter arrangements, long-term and short-term loans, international combines, and cartels. Businesses on occasion do abroad what they would not or could not do at home. Foreign trade is regarded by some as the happy hunting ground of gigantic international understandings, political controls, economic imperialism, and ruthless competitive warfare with success a matter of national prestige. These studies make intensive probings into but one or two corners of the area ordinarily encompassed by foreign trade. But in those corners they show interesting action patterns of concentration of economic power at work.

Part I is a study written by Dr. Milton Gilbert of the Department of Commerce entitled "A Sample Study of Differences Between Domestic and Export Pricing Policy of the United States Corporations." It explores a most difficult problem for it seeks not only to distinguish domestic prices from export prices but to determine whether such differences as exist reveal the presence or absence in one form or other of economic control.

This task is the most difficult in most instances because there is no single domestic price. There are hosts of domestic prices. The New York price, for example, even of such an article as butter or flour differs considerably from the price in Kansas City or San Francisco. There are many reasons for divergences of prices at home and abroad, differences in no way related to the presence of monopoly or of concentration of economic power, for all prices are local prices subject to local variations in demand, supply, control, taxes, and governmental regulation. It is only in the peculiar instance when the domestic price is high, completely inflexible and completely under control and the foreign price low, highly flexible, and uncontrolled that one can infer

-IX-

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