Throughout the 1970s and early 1980s, increasing positive balances on the services account provided a substantial offset to negative balances in merchandise trade, and, consequently, the cumulative current balance was a positive $3.8 billion for the period 1970-80. Since 1981, the progressively smaller balances in services have been insufficient to offset the increasingly negative merchandise trade balances. Table 1-1 shows the deterioration in U.S. international accounts during this period.
Raines, J. Patrick and Lewis A. Litteral. "Issues and Implications of Implementing Surcharges to Improve the U.S. Balance of Trade." E.C.R.S.B. 86-8. Robins School of Business White Paper Series. University of Richmond, Richmond, Virginia.