2. Editorial Note

On February 6, 1961, President Kennedy sent a special message to Congress outlining measures to ease the crisis in the U.S. balance-of-payments situation. Because of a continuing deficit in the balance of payments, the United States had suffered a gold outflow, which was [Page 3] troublesome, Kennedy emphasized, “not only for us but also for our friends and allies who rely on the dollar to finance a substantial portion of their trade.” He went on to propose both short- and long-term measures to eliminate the deficit and stem the outflow of gold caused by loss of foreign confidence in the dollar. He assigned specific responsibilities to the Departments of the Treasury, State, Defense, Commerce, and Agriculture, the Bureau of the Budget, and the Export-Import Bank to implement his program for export promotion, burdensharing in defense and foreign assistance, and financial restraints and incentives designed to encourage foreign dollar investments. For text of his message, see Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: John F. Kennedy, 1961, pages 57-66.

The President followed up by directing Secretary of the Treasury Douglas Dillon “to undertake coordinating responsibility for that program and to report to me periodically on the progress achieved, along with any recommendations for additional action deemed necessary on the balance of payments problem. In carrying out this responsibility, you should consult with the heads of other Departments and Agencies concerned.” (Memorandum from Kennedy to Dillon, February 17; Department of State, E Files: Lot 64 D 452, Balance of Payments—Procurement)