Business: Trying to Right the Balance

But American sales are beset by self-inflicted wounds

It is nowhere near as politically sexy as trying to knock down inflation or prop up the dollar, but Jimmy Carter has another tough economic imperative on his hands: dealing with the trade deficit. Until the late 1960s, the U.S. routinely piled up comfortable surpluses almost without trying. Since then, rapidly rising imports of oil and manufactured goods combined with the relative slackening of the sales of American products abroad have tipped the trade balance perilously out of kilter. In the past three years, the excess of what the U.S. bought over what it...

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