STATISTICS: Lying Numbers

Officially, the U.S. balance of payments deficit was wiped out last week —and so was any possibility of a surplus. Over the years, Washington evolved several methods of weighing the amount of money going out of the U.S. against the amount coming in, but officials became convinced that none gave a true picture of the American position in transactions with the rest of the world. So last week the Government gave up even trying. The Commerce Department did report on various classes of transactions for the first quarter. Its figures showed a swing in merchandise trade from a $2.2...

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