IN the economic sphere, the world is about to enter a new phase. It is already evident in the United States that the period of the postwar transition with its special characteristics is drawing to a close. In Great Britain an over-all balance of trade has been achieved, although a large deficit against the dollar area remains; inflationary pressure has almost ceased and British industry is no longer gravely impeded by material shortages. On the Continent also there are signs that the inflationary pressure has eased. No doubt vast work remains to be done and many years must elapse before the ravages of war are repaired. But the period of extreme shortages and high pressure may be deemed to be over. It is not only in the United States that signs of depression are likely to appear.
This, therefore, is the time to take stock of such arrangements and plans as we have for international economic coöperation. Machinery was created some five years ago, and modes of procedure agreed upon, with some hope that they would enable the nations to tackle their economic problems in a spirit of closer coöperation than in the thirties. Nonetheless, as the time draws near for these plans to be put to the test, there is a suspicion that the agencies and procedures may not be adequate to the occasion. Governments feel that they may have to increase import restrictions and take other unneighborly measures, if faced with a severe depression. In the economic field, no less than in politics, the momentum of internationalism appears to have decreased. The political reasons are too well known to need repetition here. But in the economic sphere, the failure of one or more Powers to be fully coöperative ought not to prevent collaboration by the others. It may be that the plans themselves were not entirely adequate.
Partly owing to waning faith in economic internationalism, and also owing to the unexpectedly formidable difficulties of the transition
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