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Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Far East 1951

image of Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Far East 1951

This latest edition of the Survey analyzes current economic and social developments in the region against the background of events in the world economy. It also focuses on the serios problems of growth and transformation of the area's least developed and Pacific Island developing economies.

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Introduction

The economic conditions of several countries of the ECAFE region in 1951 were especially affected by fluctuations in external demand for their exports, the effects of which overshadowed the changes brought about by internal factors. Production, exports and imports, terms of trade, balance of payments, public expenditure and investment, inflation and deflation, reflected the changing character of the swings in external demand and world prices. The changes in prices of some principal export commodities varied, in the short span of about 12 to 18 months, from an increase of about 200 to 300 per cent above the pre-Korean war level to a decline of 30 to 60 per cent from their maximum levels. Beginning with the latter half of 1950 there was a sharp rise in export prices accompanied by a moderate increase in the volume of exports, but this development was arrested after reaching a peak in the first quarter of 1951 when prices took a downward turn. The surplus of $1,130 million in the balance of trade for the region in the first half of 1951 was converted into a deficit of $350 million in the second half. In those countries of the ECAFE region, in which the ratio of exports to national income ranges from one-quarter to one-half, changes in export prices and trade balances of such magnitude must obviously have serious effects on the whole economy. The causes of these fluctuations, including the sudden increase and subsequent slackening of demand for stockpiling and rearmament, are described in the text of the Survey, but their consequences deserve to be underlined.

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