In the 1960s the Balance of Payments statistics were considered more important than they are today. The major reason they have become less important is that:

the U.S. imposed exchange-rate controls at the end of the 1960s.
the U.S. relies less on foreign trade than it did in the 1960s.
these statistics were important only as long as the U.S. was involved in the War in Vietnam. Once it was over, they no longer mattered.
the U.S. shifted from fixed to floating exchange rates in the early 1970s.

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