Trade: Shrinking Surplus

People buy foreign goods for many reasons: novelty, fashion, durability, economy, snob appeal. Whatever the reasons, U.S. imports traditionally run at about 3% of the gross national product. That total tends to rise sharply, however, in times of prosperity —and this year it has spurted faster than at any time in a decade. The surge may satisfy the fanciers, and the sellers, of Dutch beer, Swiss watches or Italian fashions, but it bothers the U.S. Government. The nation's trade surplus —the excess of exports over imports—is rapidly shrinking, thus reducing the base that...

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