FEW worries have dogged the Government and businessmen more than the U.S. balance of payments deficit. Last week the Commerce Department announced some hopeful news: in the third quarter the payments deficit ran at an annual rate of $1.5 billion, compared with $5.1 billion for the second quarter. This was a six-year low. Main reason for the improvement was that purchases of foreign securities by Americans were "nearly zero" because of the Administration's proposed 15% tax on such purchases. The Government expects the improvement to continue in the fourth quarter.


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