TRADE: Ominous Oil Hangover

For months many economists have feared that the energy crisis would leave a disastrous economic hangover; skyrocketing petroleum prices, they worried, would start a vicious circle of protectionism among countries threatened by huge trade deficits. Last week brought an ominous sign that those pessimists might be right. Without consulting its eight partners in the European Economic Community (Common Market), the Italian government announced that importers of many foreign products would have to deposit half the purchase price with the state bank. The money would be held for six months and then refunded—without interest. With credit tight, the move amounts...

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