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This study begins by presenting facts on the magnitude and characteristics of US economic relations with the rest of the world, both trade and finance. The second part answers some of the perennial questions about external balance: Why has the external deficit continued to worsen even as the budget deficit became a surplus? Why, if US exporters are so intensely competitive, has the external deficit persisted? Does the external deficit represent protectionism abroad; will it lead to protectionism at home? Is a chronic and widening external deficit sustainable?
Each chapter briefly addresses the context of the question and then presents simple analytical frameworks that are relevant to answering the question, discusses major points of response and offers numerical examples if appropriate. The objective is to have each chapter stand alone as a concise, succinct, and clear statement on each big issue. The last section gives an outlook for1999 using the preceding chapters as the foundation for analysis.