Looking back over the post World War II period it seems that the 1950s and 1960s were the golden days of economic co-operation under American tutelage. The United States had lured the European countries into this with Marshall Plan money, not merely out of generosity but also out of self-interest in the speedy recovery of Europe’s economies. Economic growth was the main objective, full employment the only acceptable constraint, and effective demand the main policy parameter. Inflation was considered a nuisance to be tolerated if not ignored as long as possible, leaving the role of disciplinarian to recurrent external payments problems. Balance-ofpayments crises involving major industrial countries, already then occasionally due to external shocks (for example the Suez crisis), put international monetary co-operation frequently to the test. Surplus countries could still open safety valves to deal with their problems, by progressively eliminating existing trade and payments restrictions, replenishing their still modest gold and dollar reserves or ‘recycling’ part of their high savings through bilateral or multilateral aid.
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