Trade: What the Restrictions Mean

President Johnson's moves to correct the U.S.'s balance of payments deficit were painful to some, controversial to many, and likely to damage the nation's own interests if left in effect too long. Yet the objective was beyond cavil: to prevent recent attacks on the dollar and the speculative rush for gold from growing into an international financial crisis that could undermine prosperity around the world.

Having temporized for years, the President finally was forced to act under the goad of unexpected pressure. During the fourth quarter of last year, the deficit soared...