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GREAT BRITAIN: One Foot in the Door

2 minute read

Like a man coming home out of the yellow wool of a London fog, Great Britain last week set a thankful foot on the doorstep to recovery.

The government published a White Paper describing Britain’s export-import program for 1948-49; it left no one breathless. Its figures showed, however, that the British people and the U.S. dollars they were getting under the Marshall Plan had been working hard and to good effect. Production in all key sectors of the nation’s economy was substantially higher than in 1947. Agriculture, in spite of bad weather, was up 25% above the prewar level; industry was up 20%. Exports were 34% greater than they were ten years ago.

The formula behind the achievement liad been painfully simple: eat less, work more, which to British planners meant: cut imports, increase exports. If it worked once, said the White Paper, it ought to work again. Britons might get a few more eggs, otherwise rations would stay the same. On this dreary diet they were being asked during the coming year to hike production by roughly the same percentages as they had achieved in the past year.

Britain was planning to plow back 20% of her gross income each year for the next four years into improving her production plant. Next to the U.S., Britain was the West’s biggest Santa Claus. While taking ECA dollars with one hand, she was giving to Marshall aid countries with the other $312 million (in sterling) to cover their expected trading deficit with Britain.

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