Editorial Note

On June 4 the National Advisory Council decided that the Export-Import Bank should proceed to the drafting of a legislative program requesting Congress to increase the Bank’s lending authority by $1¼ billion (Meeting No. 31, June 4, 1946). During June this matter was discussed with the Executive Office of the President and cleared with the Bureau of the Budget. At a meeting of the Council on July 2, however, the question arose as to the wisdom of asking Congress for an additional $1¼ billion, one billion of which would be tentatively earmarked for Russia at a time of deteriorating relations with the Soviet Union. (Regarding the growing acerbity in United States-Soviet relations, see documentation concerning the meetings of the Council of Foreign Ministers and the Paris Peace Conference, volumes II, III, and IV.) The Council decided to consult Congressional leaders informally on the matter (Meeting No. 32, July 2, 1946). The Chairman of the National Advisory Council subsequently consulted with Speaker of the House Rayburn and Senate Majority Leader Barkley, and was informed that it would not be possible to get such legislation through that session of Congress. President Truman accordingly decided that it was inadvisable “to take action at that time since nothing would be gained by asking for an appropriation which it was felt could not be obtained.” (Minutes of Meeting No. 35, July 23, 1946, and letter by the Assistant Secretary of State for Economic Affairs (Clayton) to Richmond B. Keech, Administrative Assistant to the President, September 23, 1946, (811.032/8–1246).)

The $650 million loan to France, then, marked the end with one exception (a $3 million credit to Ethiopia) of the United States Government’s policy to assist war-devastated countries directly in acquiring dollar exchange for the purchase of American capital equipment and services, by setting up lines of credit in the United States under the authorization of the Export-Import Bank. During the period July 1, 1945 through June 30, 1946 the Export-Import Bank authorized commitments for roughly $2 billion in credits for the purchase of American goods and services, as follows: Belgium, $100 million; [Page 1436] China, $67 million; Denmark, $20 million; Finland, $35 million; France, $1200 million; Greece, $25 million; the Netherlands (including the Netherlands East Indies), $400 million; Norway, $50 million; and Poland, $40 million. In addition, the Export-Import Bank in April 1946 earmarked $500 million for possible credits to China beyond the $67 million already committed. The books no longer showed a $1 billion reserve for the Soviet Union.

In the latter half of 1946 deliberations in the National Advisory Council regarding the reconstruction needs of war-devastated countries shifted from discussion of Export-Import Bank credits to loans by the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development which had opened its doors on June 25, 1946. Through the United States Executive Director of the International Bank, Emilio G. Collado, the Council kept in close touch with the International Bank’s early efforts to formulate a loan policy and set up a loan program. By September 1946 the Chairman of the Export-Import Bank (Martin) was informally referring prospective borrowers to the International Bank for loans, and at its meeting on September 26 the National Advisory Council in effect ratified this policy by formally recommending that a loan request made by the government of Denmark to the Export-Import Bank should more appropriately be submitted to the International Bank (Minutes of Meeting No. 40, September 26, 1946).

Other forms of credit extended by the United States at this time and originally projected in the foreign financial program of mid-1945 included surplus property credits, lend-lease “pipeline” and inventory credits, and the loan to the United Kingdom. The table following shows the principal credits authorized through these sources, as well as through the Export-Import Bank, for the immediate postwar period.

(In Billions of Dollars)

Total credits extended June 30, 1945–Dec. 31, 1946 Amount Utilized as of Dec. 31, 1946 Unutilized as of Dec. 31, 1946
Export-Import Bank Credits (the second and third columns include credits authorized before June 30, 1945 and either utilized or unutilized by Dec. 31, 1946) 2.3 1.1 1.3
Surplus property credits 1.1 .8 .3
Lend-lease “pipeline” and inventory credits 1.4 1.2 .2
Loan to the United Kingdom 3.75 .6 3.15
Total 8.55 3.7 4.95