LETTERS TO THE EDITOR LET'S NOT FORGET THE RIGHT NUMBERS

I was intrigued by Professor Wallace's piece, "Looking at the Wrong Numbers," (JofC, Feb. 3) because he repeats an often-heard argument. As the story goes, a true picture of the deficit in goods and services between the United States and Japan would have to include the sale of goods and services of U.S. multinationals in Japan and the same for Japanese subsidiaries in the United States. He then states that "as of 1984 the United States was not in deficit on this basis."

Unfortunately, the U.S. Department of Commerce doesn't agree. In 1984 our deficit in goods and services with Japan was $37.6 billion. In addition, total sales of U.S. companies located in Japan were $77.5 billion while total sales of Japanese companies located here were $134.7 billion, leaving a deficit in this account of $57.2 billion. The company sales include services but not banking. Since Japan is a capital surplus country financing our deficit and their own U.S. business expansion, there won't be a surplus in this account.Thus, the total Japanese deficit based on Commerce data was $94.8 billion. The new method of calculation does not show what most people believe it shows. Overall, the United States has had only one current account surplus on a real resources basis (excluding the double entry of reinvested income) since 1968, and that was in the recession year of 1975! Policy based on the misconception that we have had a surplus - with Japan or the world - is indeed "looking at the wrong numbers."

Ronald L. Danielian, President International Economic Policy Association Washington, D.C.

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