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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - September 27, 1973, Lethbridge, Alberta Negotiations headed for breakdown Thursday, September 27. 1973 THE LETHBRIDGE HERALD 27 Monetary reform decisions needed By LEONARD SILK New York Times Service observers here have begun to wonder whether the whole process of world monetary reform negotiation may not be headed for a breakdown in the coming year unless political decisions are taken at the highest level to reconcile the opposing views on all the major issues. The first of these is how to establish the need for any country to change its ex- change rate upward or downward. The nations here have ten- tatively agreed in the words of the so-called "first outline of reform" of the committee of 20 that the new exchange rate regime will be based on "stable but adjustable par values and floating rates recognized as providing a useful technique in particular situations." But the gut issue is what "stable but adjustable" means. If there is little pressure on nations to change their exchange rates when their currencies are out of line, the monetary negotiation might simply represent an ef- fort to prop up the collapsed Bretton Woods fixed-rate system for another go. The United States wants the pressures on nations to devalue or revalue to be tough and balanced. Secretary of the Treasury Geroge P. Shultz wants a "blending of objective criteria and international judgment, with the recogni- tion of the need for symmetrical and even-handed pressures on both surplus and deficit countries." There is also a gap between how the United States and others view "floating in par- ticular situations." The American delegation here has THE FINEST RETIREMENT AND RECREATIONAL COMMUNITY Blind Bay, 6 C., Halfway Calgary and Tram-Canada mail a brochure. been anxious to "keep the floating option open." as Sh- ultz and Under-secretary Paul A. Volcker have made clear presumably not just out of regard for other countries that might get into trouble but also for the United States. In effect, this implies that if the United States again found itself in a situation com- parable to the summer of 1972 with heavy balance-of- payments deficits and shor- tage of reserves to cover them it would resume floating. And. given the enormous key currency role of the dollar, that would mean the world was back floating again. Valery Giscard D'estaing, the French finance minister, said, "the only good thing one can say about present prac- tices is that they are providing their own proof that they do not work." The second major area of controversy and conflict is over convertibility. This, put simply, means U.S. willingness to exchange gold, special drawing rights of other reserves for dollars held by foreign governments. Giscard D'estaing of France could not have been more emphatic about ending the dollar's special role as a reserve currency. "The touchstone of he said, "is to be found in the area of conver- tibility. This question out- weighs all others, particularly that of adjustment. It the fundamental problem of equality in the way rights and obligations are shared within the international com- munity." The United States says it wants to restore conver- tibility, but insists there are major differences in what convertibility means. Basically, said Shultz, the issue is whether countries that hold or acquire dollars must present them to the United States for conversion into gold or SDR.'s, whether they want to or not or whether the United States should be obliged to convert only those dollars that people decide to present for conversion into other assets. The United States wants the latter concept Shultz thinks the dollar is an undervalued currency and is likely to strengthen further in the period ahead With both an appreciating currency and a good rate of interest to be earned by putting dollars into treasury bills or other securities, he asks, why shouldn't other nations be free to hold dollars if they want to? However, skeptical foreign governments interpret this as a way the United States hopes to preserve the dollar stan- dard and its special advan- tages The third major issue is to decide the nature and role of special drawing rights the paper gold' closely related to the future role of gold itself as a monetary reserve medium. Here again, however, there are important differences in what the general agreement means. Most countries want to link the value of the S.D.R. to the average of a "basket" of currencies and give the S D.R. an average market interest rate. Other countries want the S.D.R. linked to a "basket" filled only with strong currencies which would make the value of the S.D.R. increase over time. A few the United want the S.D.R.linked to any group of currencies but favor an "abstract S.D.R An "abstracts D.R would have its value in the by the balance of revaluations and devaluations of individual countries. The United States favors an "abstract S.D R. and would give a relatively low interest rate. The gold issue remains much hotter than the bland language of the reform report implies. TOWER OPENED NAIROBI, Kenya (Reuter) President Jomo Kenyatta opened black Africa's tallest building Tuesday. The 28- storey circular tower will serve as headquarters for the environmental secretariat of the United Nations Complete protection in an easy-to-handle package Tough Western Canadian winters are the best reason in the world for picking up new PRESTONE 1 Anti-Freeze. It can actually protect your car down to below zero if you need it. 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