168. Editorial Note

From 3:15 to 7 p.m. on August 13, 1971, President Nixon met with a number of his economic advisers and three members of his White House staff at Camp David to detail the New Economic Policy the President had agreed to in his meetings with Shultz and Connally on August 2 and August 12 (see Documents 164 and 165) and would announce during a 9 p.m. television address on Sunday, August 15. According to the President’s Daily Diary for August 13, Connally, McCracken, Burns, Volcker, Stein, Peter Peterson, Haldeman, Ehrlichman, Shultz, and Safire attended the Camp David meeting. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Central Files, President’s Daily Diary) William Safire recalled that the President directed all participants in the meetings to sign a guest book, according to which Caspar Weinberger, Arnold Weber (OMB), Kenneth Dam, Michael Bradfield (Treasury), and Larry Higby (Haldeman’s assistant) also attended the August 13 meeting. (Safire, Before the Fall: An Inside View of the Pre-Watergate White House, page 511) The meeting continued intermittently, with a few changes in attendees, until 11:30 a.m. on August 15.

No comprehensive options papers for this meeting were found, although some materials were assembled at the Treasury Department for Connally’s use. (Washington National Records Center, Department of the Treasury, Records of Secretary Shultz:FRC 56 80 1, Economic Game Plan Background, Camp David 8/13-15/71). During an April 8, 1998, interview with the editor, Stein confirmed that there were no options papers for the Camp David meeting, but added that some aspects of the program had been worked on earlier in the year. Stein said that in response to Congressional interest in a wage price freeze, some thinking on modalities had been done at the Council of Economic Advisers, and he thought the [Page 467]Office of Management and Budget had worked on the issue as well. At Treasury, considerable thought had also been given to the international dimensions. See, for example, Documents 152 and 153.

The Department of State and the National Security Council were not represented at the Camp David meeting and, according to memoranda to Rogers and Kissinger ( Documents 166 and 167), they were unaware the meeting was taking place when it began. Kissinger’s memoir corroborates this: “a decision of major foreign policy importance had been taken about which neither the Secretary of State nor the national security adviser had been consulted.” (White House Years, page 954)

Haldeman reported that the President decided to go ahead with the NEP the following week after meeting with Connally late in the afternoon on August 12. The Camp David meeting was then set up, in the greatest secrecy, around the Economic Troika, to begin on the afternoon of August 13. (The Haldeman Diaries: Inside the Nixon White House, page 340) Haldeman took detailed handwritten notes of the key NEP planning meeting which lasted for nearly 4 hours that afternoon, as well as more limited notes later in the weekend. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Special Files, Haldeman Notes) Haldeman also prepared full diary entries for the weekend, which were later included as part of a compact disc publication, The Haldeman Diaries: Inside the Nixon White House, the Complete Multimedia Edition, pages 340-346. The President’s leadership in formulating the execution of the NEP, Connally’s role, especially on the NEP’s international aspects, and Burns’ lonely and unsuccessful attempt to keep the gold window open are among the highlights in Haldeman’s notes. Haldeman’s handwritten notes and diary also reveal that on August 14 President Nixon said Secretary Rogers should be informed and asked whether he agreed with a 10 percent reduction in foreign aid. Apparently Deputy Under Secretary of State Samuels was away from Washington, as Haldeman’s subsequent notes indicate Rogers should call him back.

The President’s August 15 address to the nation announcing the NEP is in Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Richard M. Nixon, 1971, pages 886-891. On the domestic side the NEP imposed a regime of wage and price controls and established the administrative machinery for their monitoring and enforcement; on the international side the NEP imposed a 10 percent import surtax on all dutiable imports from most-favored-nation countries, suspended the dollar’s convertibility to gold, and reduced foreign assistance expenditures by 10 percent. During the April 8, 1998, interview, Stein indicated he thought it was unclear to attendees at the Camp David meeting if closing the gold window implied a floating of the dollar. He said that at Camp David there was no discussion of what outcome was sought in the international economic policy arena and that in the absence of representatives from the State Department and the National Security Council there was little consideration of international political implications.