Search billions of records on Ancestry.com
   
Website logo - Click to go to Home page



The Paper Moneys of Europe, by Francis W. Hirst


Project Gutenberg's The Paper Moneys of Europe, by Francis W. Hirst

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with
almost no restrictions whatsoever.  You may copy it, give it away or
re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included
with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.net


Title: The Paper Moneys of Europe
       Their Moral and Economic Significance

Author: Francis W. Hirst

Release Date: July 23, 2009 [EBook #29499]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1

*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE PAPER MONEYS OF EUROPE ***




Produced by The Online Distributed Proofreading Team at
http://www.pgdp.net (This file was produced from images
generously made available by The Internet Archive/American
Libraries.)






THE PAPER MONEYS
OF EUROPE

THEIR MORAL AND ECONOMIC
SIGNIFICANCE


By

FRANCIS W. HIRST

Logo

BOSTON AND NEW YORK
HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY
The Riverside Press Cambridge
1922

COPYRIGHT, 1922, BY THE REGENTS OF THE
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

The Riverside Press
CAMBRIDGE · MASSACHUSETTS
PRINTED IN THE U.S.A.


BARBARA WEINSTOCK
LECTURES ON THE MORALS OF TRADE

This series will contain essays by representative scholars and men of affairs dealing with the various phases of the moral law in its bearing on business life under the new economic order, first delivered at the University of California on the Weinstock foundation.


THE PAPER MONEYS OF EUROPE


THEIR MORAL AND ECONOMIC SIGNIFICANCE

No more severe reflection could be passed upon the moral and political capacity of the human species than this: Five thousand years after the invention of writing, three thousand after the invention of money, and (nearly) five hundred since the invention of printing, governments all over the world are employing the third invention for the purpose of debasing the second; thereby robbing millions of innocent individuals of their property on a scale so extensive that previous public confiscations of private property through the adulteration of money—in ancient Rome, in Ireland under James the Second, in Prussia during the Seven Years' War, in the American colonies and the United States, in Portugal, in Greece, in various republics of Central and South America, even the assignats of the French Revolution—seem pigmy frauds in comparison with the present vast inundation of counterfeit paper money.

In these times, when so much attention is given to what I may call the prehistoric history of mankind, it would ill become me, a mere adventurer in anthropology, to discuss the origin of money or to attempt an explanation of the curious fact that the art of coining money was invented and perfected a thousand years before the art of printing. The coins struck by the best cities of ancient Greece are a model and a reproach to our modern mints; and being for the most part of good silver, they fulfilled the two main functions of currency—as a measure of value and a medium of exchange.

Silver was well adapted for the purposes of currency by its ductility, durability, divisibility, portability, and value. Its value depended on three things. In the first place, it was scarce; in the second, it was much in demand for the arts and manufactures; and in the third place, its intrinsic value was increased and stabilized by the needs and demands of the mints.

Gold had similar qualifications, but it was too scarce and too precious until the nineteenth century, in the course of which (for reasons which I need not enter upon here), most of the great commercial nations adopted a gold standard. Copper possessed in a less degree the qualifications of gold and silver, but it was the first metal to be coined into money in ancient Rome. The Roman as or pondo weighed a Roman pound of good copper, therefore possessed the two principal attributes of good money, a definite weight and a definite fineness. It was divided like our troy pound into twelve ounces of good copper.

The English Troyes or Troy pound was first used in the English mint in the time of Henry the Eighth. Edward the First's pound sterling was a Tower pound of silver of a definite fineness. Charlemagne's livre was a Troyes1 pound of silver of definite fineness. The old English Scotch pence or pennies contained originally a real pennyweight of silver, one twentieth of an ounce and one two hundred and fortieth of a pound. The famous pre-war English sovereign, now demonetized and misrepresented by the depreciated paper pound, was itself also a weight; but the twenty shillings and two hundred and forty pence which exchanged for it were token coins depending for their value upon the gold sovereign.

From the time of Charlemagne among the French, and from that of William the Conqueror among the English [wrote Adam Smith in 1776], the proportion between the pound, the shilling and the penny, seems to have been uniformly the same as at present, though the value of each has been very different; for in every country of the world, I believe, the avarice and injustice of princes and sovereign states, abusing the confidence of their subjects, have by degrees diminished the real quantity of metal which had been originally contained in their coins. The Roman as, in the latter ages of the republic, was reduced to the twenty-fourth part of its original value, and, instead of weighing a pound, came to weigh only half an ounce. The English pound and penny contain at present about a third only; the Scots pound and penny about a thirty-sixth; and the French pound and penny about a sixty-sixth part of their original value. By means of those operations, the princes and sovereign states which performed them were enabled, in appearance, to pay their debts and fulfil their engagements with a smaller quantity of silver than would otherwise have been requisite. It was indeed in appearance only; for their creditors were really defrauded of a part of what was due to them. All other debtors in the state were allowed the same privilege, and might pay with the same nominal sum of the new and debased coin whatever they had borrowed in the old. Such operations, therefore, have always proved favourable to the debtor, and ruinous to the creditor, and have sometimes produced a greater and more universal revolution in the fortunes of private persons, than could have been occasioned by a very great public calamity.2

John Stuart Mill follows his master in exposing and denouncing what he calls this "least covert of all forms of knavery which consists in calling a shilling a pound." But the opinions of Mill, the saint of rationalism, deserve and demand citation as they bring us directly to our subject. He writes:

When gold and silver had become virtually a medium of exchange, by becoming the things for which people generally sold, and with which they generally bought, whatever they had to sell or buy; the contrivance of coining obviously suggested itself. By this process the metal was divided into convenient portions, of any degree of smallness, and bearing a recognised proportion to one another; and the trouble was saved of weighing and assaying at every change of possessors, an inconvenience which on the occasion of small purchases would soon have become insupportable.

Governments found it their interest to take the operation into their own hands, and to interdict all coining by private persons; indeed, their guarantee was often the only one which would have been relied on, a reliance however which very often it ill deserved; profligate governments having until a very modern period seldom scrupled, for the sake of robbing their creditors, to confer on all other debtors a licence to rob theirs, by the shallow and impudent artifice of lowering the standard; that least covert of all modes of knavery, which consists in calling a shilling a pound, that a debt of a hundred pounds may be cancelled by the payment of a hundred shillings. It would have been as simple a plan, and would have answered just as well, to have enacted that "a hundred" should always be interpreted to mean five, which would have effected the same reduction in all pecuniary contracts, and would not have been at all more shameless. Such strokes of policy have not wholly ceased to be recommended, but they have ceased to be practised, except occasionally through the medium of paper money, in which case the character of the transaction, from the greater obscurity of the subject is a little less barefaced.3

A few illustrations from the past may help us to a critical contemplation of the present monetary conditions on the continent of Europe, which constitute fraud and robbery on the most wholesale scale ever practised by governments (with the style and title of democracies!) upon the miserable victims, called citizens, and supposed to be endowed with the blessings of self-determination.

Those who believe that war, if not a divine institution, is at least an inevitable feature of human society may plead in extenuation of this species of fraud that it is usually the last desperate resource of a government which has pledged all its taxes and credit for war or armaments.

I remember reading in the Roman historian Sallust of a financial crisis which was ended by debts contracted in silver being paid off in copper—argentum ære solutum est.

A few years before Adam Smith wrote his chapter on money, Frederick the Great, during the Seven Years' War, resorted to the Jew, Ephraim, who coined tin silver:

Outside noble, inside slim,

Outside Frederick, inside Ephraim.

But Frederick, wiser and more honest than our European belligerents, made it his first care after the peace to restore an honest silver coinage.

A lively example from English, or rather Irish, history is supplied by Macaulay and belongs to the year 1689. It is one of the incidents in James the Second's brief and luckless government of Ireland:

It is remarkable that while the King [James II] was losing the confidence and good will of the Irish Commons by faintly defending against them, in one quarter, the institution of property, he was himself, in another quarter, attacking that institution with a violence, if possible more reckless than theirs.

He soon found that no money came into his Exchequer. The cause was sufficiently obvious. Trade was at an end. Floating capital had been withdrawn in great masses from the island. Of the fixed capital much had been destroyed, and the rest was lying idle. Thousands of those Protestants who were the most industrious and intelligent part of the population had emigrated to England. Thousands had taken refuge in the places which still held out for William and Mary. Of the Roman Catholic peasantry, who were in the vigor of life, the majority had enlisted in the army or had joined gangs of plunderers. The poverty of the treasury was the necessary effect of the poverty of the country: public prosperity could be restored only by the restoration of private prosperity; and private prosperity could be restored only by years of peace and security. James was absurd enough to imagine that there was a more speedy and efficacious remedy. He could, he conceived, at once extricate himself from his financial difficulties by the simple process of calling a farthing a shilling.

The right of coining was undoubtedly a flower of the prerogative; and, in his view, the right of coining included the right of debasing the coin. Pots, pans, knockers of doors, pieces of ordnance which had long been past use, were carried to the mint. In a short time lumps of base metal, nominally worth near a million sterling, intrinsically worth about a sixtieth part of that sum, were in circulation. A royal edict declared these pieces to be legal tender in all cases whatsoever. A mortgage for a thousand pounds was cleared off by a bag of counters made out of old kettles. The creditors who complained to the Court of Chancery were told by Fitton to take their money and be gone.

But of all classes, the tradesmen of Dublin, who were generally Protestants, were the greatest losers. At first, of course, they raised their demands; but the magistrates of the city took on themselves to meet this heretical inclination by putting forth a tariff regulating prices. Any man who belonged to the caste now dominant might walk into a shop, lay on the counter a bit of brass worth threepence, and carry off goods to the value of half a guinea. Legal remedies were out of the question. Indeed the sufferers thought themselves happy if, by the sacrifice of their stock in trade, they could redeem their limbs and their lives. There was not a baker's shop in the city round which twenty or thirty soldiers were not constantly prowling. Some persons who refused the base money were arrested by troopers and carried before the Provost Marshal, who cursed them, swore at them, locked them up in dark cells, and, by threatening to hang them at their own doors, soon overcame their resistance. Of all the plagues of that time none made a deeper or a more lasting impression on the minds of the Protestants of Dublin than the plague of brass money. To the recollection of the confusion and misery which had been produced by James' coin must be in part ascribed the strenuous opposition which, thirty-five years later, large classes firmly attached to the House of Hanover, offered to the government of George the First in the affair of Woods' Patent.4

But paper money offers far more extensive facilities to knavery than a metallic currency. In his Essays on the Monetary History of the United States,5 Mr. Charles J. Bullock has described in sufficient detail the "carnival of fraud and corruption" which attended the paper money coined or rather printed by most of the American colonies in the century preceding the American Revolution. Thus, about the middle of the eighteenth century, the paper money of Massachusetts fell to an eighth of its original value. People were driven to barter, and one writer observed that "the morals of the people depreciate with the currency." Parties were divided into debtors and creditors, and a New England writer in 1749 noted: "The Debtor side has had the ascendant ever since anno 1741 to the almost utter ruin of the country."6 To this writer belongs the credit of discerning, at a time when even Benjamin Franklin was in error, that "the repeated large emissions of Paper Money" were responsible for its depreciation.

"Not worth a Continental" is an expression which brings us to the next chapter in American experience of inconvertible paper currencies. The so-called Continental money was the means by which the Continental Congress and the individual colonies—too timid to tax—endeavored to finance the Revolutionary War. By 1781, a paper dollar was worth less than two cents in specie, and soon afterward it became practically worthless.7 Robbery was legalized; rogues flourished; and their frauds were encouraged and protected by a government whose policy enabled debtors to pay their debts in valueless money. We hear of creditors running away from their debtors and being paid off "without mercy." Stories were told of creditors in Rhode Island leaping out of back windows to escape the attentions of their debtors.8 In short, the law became an engine of oppression and destroyed the fortunes of thousands who had put their confidence in it. In the words of Breck, a friendly critic, "... the old debts were paid when the paper money was more than seventy to one ... widows, orphans and others were paid for money lent in specie with depreciated paper."

The astonishing thing is that all this knavery was devised, or winked at, not only by low class politicians but by statesmen of renown. The maxim salus populi suprema lex was relied upon not for the first or last time as a sufficient excuse for a crime far more pernicious than that of a private forger. But we have not yet realized, in our minds or in our penal codes, that public vices ought to be punished at least as vigorously as private crimes.

That, even as a desperate last resort for financing war, a flood of paper money defeats its own object was conclusively proved a few years later during the French Revolution. The French assignats "have taken their place in history as the classical example of paper money made worthless by over-issue. After their final collapse in 1796, French finance reverted perforce to a metallic basis." So Mr. Hawtrey, a British Treasury official, who has given us recently a lucid and sufficiently detailed account of this extraordinary incident—extraordinary but no longer singular, for the same course with the same results has been pursued during and since the war of 1914-1918 by Russia and Poland, and in a greater or less degree by most of the European belligerents.

The issue of French assignats began in 1789 because the assembly would not vote adequate taxation, and Necker, the minister of finance, was unable to borrow enough to cover the deficit. In the two years from 1789 to 1791, the public revenue was 470 millions, and the public expenditures, 1719 millions, of livres. The deficit was covered by assignats, or paper livres, bearing interest, in denominations varying from 1000 to 5 livres. Thus the assignats may be regarded as a floating debt currency. In November, 1791, the assignats were worth 52 per cent of their face value. In June, 1792, after the declaration of war on Austria, they rose to 57. After the victory of Valmy, in September, they rose to 72 and remained there till December. In January, 1793, the king was guillotined, and war was declared on England. By August, after violent fluctuations, the assignat had fallen to 15 per cent of its face value. Thereafter the laws enforcing the acceptance of assignats were strengthened.

It became an offence to sell coin, or to differentiate between coin and assignats in any transaction, or to refuse payment in assignats, or to negotiate assignats at a discount. By a decree of the 5th of September the death penalty itself was imposed. Here was a forced currency indeed.9

For a few months an artificial improvement was effected in the value of the assignat by these ferocious measures; but in 1795, after the Terror, the system and the paper money collapsed. The gold and silver money, which had been hoarded, returned to circulation. In June, 1795, the quotation of the assignat oscillated violently. On one day a louis of 24 livres would buy 450 paper livres, on another, 1000.10 Paper notes which fluctuated so violently were useless as money. They could not serve either as a medium of exchange or as a measure of value. Country people expressed their contempt for the assignats by calling them l'argent de Paris.

A new currency of mandats was tried, into which assignats were made convertible. It was a complete failure. The assignats were wound up in 1796, and in February, 1797, there was "a general demonetisation of paper money."11 The holders got practically nothing. France returned to hard cash, as Mexico has done recently. In 1918, when Mr. Hawtrey wrote, he was able to describe the decline and full of the assignats as an 'almost unique' instance of "the currency of a great nation fading away into nothing." The Russian paper rouble has performed the same feat since 1918. So has the Polish mark. And now (December, 1921) the German paper mark is also fading into nothingness.12 In Austria and in most of the new states of Europe, the inconvertible paper legal tender currency has lost almost the whole of its value, in comparison with the pre-war coin which it pretends to represent.

The real difference between the present monetary conditions and the American continentals, or the French assignats, is a difference not of kind, but of degree and extent. The causes and the consequences, the motives of those who work the mint, the ruin and demoralization of the victims, the effects upon public and private debts and credit are the same. But a whole continent populated by four hundred millions of people is concerned. The commercial and moral fabric of European civilization is tottering. Three years have passed since the war ended; but the currencies and exchanges of Europe are in a much worse condition than when peace was being negotiated.

At the end of June, 1921, I walked from my office in the Strand down to Messrs. Hands & Co., who deal in foreign money at Charing Cross. On the way I passed the shop of a tailor, who had placarded on his shop window the announcement that he would give a hundred thousand roubles to every customer who bought a suit of clothes from him. He added that at the pre-war rate of exchange the one hundred thousand roubles would be worth ten thousand pounds. He did not add that they were at that time worth only two shillings.13 On arriving at my destination, I asked to see specimens of the most debased currencies and eventually laid out ten shillings,14 or, to be exact, 9s/10d. Here is the bill:

Ten German marks cost me one shilling
A hundred Austrian crowns cost me one and sixpence
A hundred Polish marks cost me sixpence
Twenty-five Russian (Czar)15 roubles (1909) cost me sixpence
Two Italian lire cost me eightpence
Two Greek drachmas cost me eightpence
Two Roumanian lei cost me sixpence
Five Yugoslav dinars16 cost me one shilling
Ten Czechoslovakian crowns cost me one shilling
Five Bulgarian levas cost me sixpence
Five Finnish marks cost me one shilling
Five Esthonian marks cost me one shilling
Five Latvian roubles cost me sixpence

To show that my friend, the exchange dealer, made a decent profit out of this retail transaction, I quote some of his selling rates for the day on which he based his charges:

  Rates of Exchange June 29, 1921
Austrian paper crowns 2400-2600 for £1
Finnish marks 220-240 for £1
German marks 265-275 for £1
Polish marks 6000 (selling rate) for £1
Greek drachmas 62-65 for £1
Italian lire 76-77 for £1
Roumanian lei 230-250 for £1

The last I heard from Vienna was that they had been varying from ten thousand to fifteen thousand to the paper pound!

The difference in the rates depended, of course, upon whether the customer was buying or selling the foreign money. If he was buying Austrian notes, he would get twenty-four hundred paper crowns for a pound. If he was selling them, he would receive a pound in exchange for twenty-six hundred paper crowns.

All these paper notes are called after, and profess to represent, silver coins, which were themselves before the war, tokens, and passed current at more than their intrinsic value because of their relation to gold.

Thus the pre-war parity of marks was about twenty to the gold pound; of Austrian crowns, about twenty-four; of francs, lire, etc., about twenty-five. On the day of my purchase, therefore, the exchange value of the German mark was less than one thirteenth, of the Austrian crown less than one one hundredth, and of the Polish mark, one two hundredth, of its pre-war status. But this underestimates the depreciation; for the British pound is no longer a gold sovereign, and even gold has been depreciated.17 The paper pound in June, 1921, was, I think, about the equivalent of twelve pre-war shillings in purchasing power. The gold dollar, which would only buy a little more than four shillings before the war, would buy five at the beginning of December, 1921.

Although an inconvertible paper currency has no intrinsic value, it can (in accordance with the quantity theory of money) be maintained at a fairly stable ratio to gold or commodities by an honest government if the total issue is fixed, or kept between reasonable maximum and minimum limits. The rise of prices since the war, in each country where reliable statistics are available, has been in proportion to the expansion of the paper currency, allowance being made for the scarcity of commodities. Of course a decline in purchasing power follows an expansion of circulation. The stability of the British paper pound since a limit was imposed illustrates the correctness of the quantity theory of money. Its increase in purchasing power (like that of the gold dollar) during the first half of 1921 is, of course, due to the fact that the supply of utilities had overtaken the demand.

At first sight it seems difficult to understand how any government, however bad, can deliberately issue flood upon flood of inconvertible paper money, seeing that its printing operations are ruinous to both public and private credit. To obtain the same amount of revenue, each new issue, each new dose, has to be much larger than the preceding. In the course of twelve months, for example, the exchange value of the Polish mark was divided by ten, that is, at the end of the period, ten times as much paper money had to be printed as at the beginning, to get the same revenue. Yet the Polish Government continued upon its course with the approval and support of the Polish Diet.

The following quotation is from the Warsaw correspondent of the London Economist, who wrote on July 28, 1921:

The effects of the last collapse of the exchanges are beginning to make themselves felt, and the Diet is already preparing fresh ground for new currency inflation. By its last vote the limit on the note circulation has been increased to 118 milliards, and on the advances of the Polish National Bank to the Government to 150 milliards.

The depreciation of the Polish mark in June was followed by a rise of prices, and this led immediately to a strike movement in almost all industries. In the Lodz district 40,000 workmen have gone on strike, demanding a wage increase of 120 per cent! The manufacturers declare that they cannot raise wages by more than 20 per cent; that even under present conditions the Polish textile industry is in a most difficult position on the foreign markets, especially in Roumania, the Baltic States, etc. Posnania was menaced by an agrarian strike, but a settlement has been reached. The strike of the municipal workers in Warsaw was short-lived. Everywhere, however, wages have been increased by more than 50 per cent. This naturally will entail a new wave of rising prices, the Government will be obliged to double the salaries of its officials, and the printing press will work again under a higher pressure. This is the vicious circle round which the country has been travelling for three years.

Ex uno disce omnes. The monetary policy of the Polish Government is merely a flagrant example of the recent monetary history of all the states of Europe northeast, southeast, east, of the Rhine and of the Alps. There is only one real remedy, the reëstablishment of complete peace, disarmament, the abolition of conscription, the drastic reduction of bloated bureaucracies, and a wholesale lowering of tariffs, which will allow the miserable and half-starved populations to renew the arts of peace and the exchange of their agricultural products and manufactures.


APPENDIX

THE BRUSSELS CONFERENCE18

If all countries were included, a general and proportionate reduction of the military and naval establishments to one half of their present cost would set free a fund of probably at least $3,000,000,000 to $4,000,000,000 annually for the purchase of food and useful commodities, for the stabilization and partial restoration of debased paper currencies, for the payment of debt, the removal of public deficits, the revival of credit, and the reduction of taxes. Thus the road to recovery lies plain before us. Will it be taken by the statesmen to whose hands the peoples have intrusted their lives and fortunes?

Deficits the Rule

In order to show that this view is in conformity with the conclusions of experts, and even of officials delegated for the purpose of examining world finance by the governments themselves, I turn to the conclusions unanimously arrived at by the Brussels conference a year ago, after eighty-six financial experts from thirty-nine countries had presented the accounts and balance sheets of their respective governments. In a general review of the situation they point out that "the total external debt of the European belligerents, converted into dollars at par, amounts to about 155 milliard dollars, compared with about 17 milliard dollars in 1913." They say that the government expenditures of the European belligerents amount to between 20 and 40 per cent of the total incomes of the peoples. They say emphatically that the restoration of real peace, with disarmament, is "the first condition for the world's recovery."

Four commissions were appointed. The first dealt with public finance, and its resolutions were adopted unanimously by the conference. The following extract from its resolutions deserves attention:

Thirty-nine nations have in turn placed before the International Financial Conference a statement of their financial position. The examination of these statements brings out the extreme gravity of the general situation of public finance throughout the world, and particularly in Europe. Their import may be summed up in the statement that three out of every four of the countries represented at this conference and eleven out of twelve of the European countries anticipate a budget deficit in the present year. Public opinion is largely responsible for this situation. The close connection between these budget deficits and the cost of living, which is causing such suffering and unrest throughout the world, is far from being grasped. Nearly every government is being pressed to incur fresh expenditure; largely on palliatives which aggravate the very evils against which they are directed. The first step is to bring public opinion in every country to realize the essential facts of the situation and particularly the need for reëstablishing public finances on a sound basis as a preliminary to the execution of those social reforms which the world demands.

Public attention should be especially drawn to the fact that the reduction of prices and the restoration of prosperity is dependent on the increase of production, and that the continual excess of government expenditure over revenue represented by budget deficits is one of the most serious obstacles to such increase of production, as it must sooner or later involve the following consequences:

(a) A further inflation of credit and currency.

(b) A further depreciation in the purchasing power of the domestic currency, and a still greater instability of the foreign exchanges.

(c) A further rise in prices and in the cost of living.

The country which accepts the policy of budget deficits is treading the slippery path which leads to general ruin; to escape from that path no sacrifice is too great. It is therefore imperative that every government should, as the first social and financial reform, on which all others depend:

(a) Restrict its ordinary recurrent expenditure, including the service of the debt, to such an amount as can be covered by its ordinary revenue.

(b) Rigidly reduce all expenditure on armaments in so far as such reduction is compatible with the preservation of national security.

(c) Abandon all unproductive extraordinary expenditure.

(d) Restrict even productive extraordinary expenditure to the lowest possible amount.

The Supreme Council of the Allied Powers in its pronouncement on the eighth of March declared that "armies should everywhere be reduced to a peace footing; that armaments should be limited to the lowest possible figure compatible with national security and that the League of Nations should be invited to consider, as soon as possible, proposals to this end."

The statements presented to the conference show that, on an average, some 20 per cent of the national expenditure is still being devoted to the maintenance of armaments and the preparations for war. The conference desires to affirm with the utmost emphasis that the world cannot afford this expenditure. Only by a frank policy of mutual coöperation can the nations hope to regain their old prosperity, and in order to secure that result, the whole resources of each country must be devoted to strictly productive purposes.

The conference accordingly recommends most earnestly to the Council of the League of Nations the desirability of conferring at once with the several governments concerned, with a view to securing a general and agreed reduction of the crushing burdens which on their existing scale armaments still impose on the impoverished peoples of the world, sapping their resource and imperiling their recovery from the ravages of war. The conference hopes that the Assembly of the League, which is about to meet, will take energetic action to this end.

The above recommendations were ignored by the League of Nations and by practically all the governments concerned. Consequently the debts and deficits of most European countries are larger at the present time than they were a year ago, and most of the paper currencies have depreciated—some very heavily—during the last twelve months.

The Dangers of Inflation

I turn next to the resolutions proposed by the second commission which had to examine problems of currency and foreign exchange.

From its resolutions, which also were adopted unanimously by the conference, I extract the following:

The currencies of all belligerent and of many other countries, though in greatly varying degrees, have since the beginning of the war been expanded artificially, regardless of the usual restraints upon such expansion—to which we refer later—and without any corresponding increase in the real wealth upon which their purchasing power was based; indeed in most cases in spite of a serious reduction in such wealth.

It should be clearly understood that this artificial and unrestrained expansion, or inflation, as it is called, of the currency or of the titles to immediate purchasing power does not and cannot add to the total real purchasing power in existence, so that its effect must be to reduce the purchasing power of each unit of the currency. It is in fact a form of debasing the currency.

The effect of it has been to intensify, in terms of the inflated currencies, the general rise in prices, so that a greater amount of such currency is needed to procure the accustomed supply of goods and services. Where this additional currency was procured by further inflation—that is, by printing more paper money or creating fresh credit—there arose what has been called a vicious spiral of constantly rising prices and wages and constantly increasing inflation, with the resulting disorganization of all business, dislocation of the exchanges, a progressive increase in the cost of living, and consequent labor unrest.

It is of the utmost importance that the growth of inflation should be stopped; and this, although no doubt very difficult to do immediately in some countries, could quickly be accomplished by abstaining from increasing the currency—in its broadest sense, as defined above—and by increasing the real wealth upon which such currency is based.

The cessation of increase in the currency should not be achieved merely by restricting the issue of legal tender. Such a step, if unaccompanied by other measures, would be apt to aggravate the situation by causing a monetary crisis. It is necessary to attack the causes which lead to the necessity for the additional currency.

The chief cause in most countries is that the governments, finding themselves unable to meet their expenditures out of revenue, have been tempted to resort to the artificial creation of fresh purchasing power, either by the direct issue of additional legal-tender money or more frequently by obtaining—especially from the banks of issue, which in some cases are unable and in others unwilling to refuse them—credits which must themselves be satisfied in legal-tender money. We say, therefore, that governments must limit their expenditure to their revenue.

Here again we have excellent doctrines and good practical advice from these financial experts to the governments which appointed them. But the doctrines have remained unapplied, and the advice has been honored in the breach instead of in the observance.

Wise Counsel Ignored

I pass next to the resolutions proposed by the commission on international trade and adopted unanimously by the conference, from which the first two paragraphs will be quoted:

The International Financial Conference affirms that the first condition for the resumption of international trade is the restoration of real peace, the conclusion of the wars which are still being waged and the assured maintenance of peace for the future. The continuance of the atmosphere of war and of preparations for war is fatal to the development of that mutual trust which is essential to the resumption of normal trading relations. The security of internal conditions is scarcely less important, as foreign trade cannot prosper in a country whose internal conditions do not inspire confidence. The conference trusts that the League of Nations will lose no opportunity to secure the full restoration and continued maintenance of peace.

The International Financial Conference affirms that the improvement of the financial position largely depends on the general restoration as soon as possible of good will between the various nations; and in particular it indorses the declaration of the Supreme Council of the eighth March last "that the States which have been created or enlarged as a result of the war should at once reëstablish full and friendly coöperation and arrange for the unrestricted interchange of commodities in order that the essential unity of European economic life may not be impaired by the erection of artificial economic barriers."

Here again there is a full recognition of the fact that peace is necessary to the renewal of prosperity, and that the atmosphere of war preparations is fatal to the growth of trade. But neither the League of Nations nor the Supreme Council, so far as I am aware, has made any effective response to these appeals.

Fourthly and lastly, I come to the commission on international credits. This commission passed a number of resolutions, all of which were adopted unanimously by the conference; but it will suffice to cite the first two:

The conference recognizes in the first place that the difficulties which at present lie in the way of international credit operations arise almost exclusively out of the disturbance caused by the war, and that the normal working of financial markets cannot be completely reëstablished unless peaceful relations are restored between all peoples and the outstanding financial questions resulting from the war are made the subject of a definite settlement which is put into execution.

The conference is, moreover, of opinion that the revival of credit requires as primary conditions the restoration of order in public finance, the cessation of inflation, the purging of currencies, and the freedom of commercial transactions. The resolutions of the commission on international credits are therefore based on the resolutions of the other commissions.

My argument then is fully endorsed by the experts at Brussels. All the facts and figures set forth in the voluminous records of that remarkable conference indicate the urgency of peace and disarmament. A year has passed.

The Brussels recommendations have been ignored, and conditions in Europe as regards its currencies, debts, trade and credit have deteriorated. The Naval limitations proposed by Mr. Hughes at Washington, even if they are ratified, will give practically no relief to Europe.


Footnotes

 

1 "The Fair of Troyes in Champaign was at that time frequented by all the nations of Europe, and the weights and measures of so famous a market were generally known and esteemed." (Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations, Book I, chap, iv.)

 

2 Wealth of Nations, Book I, chap. iv.

 

3 Mill, Political Economy, Book III, chap. vii.

 

4 Macaulay, History of England, I, chap. xii. "The Affair of Woods' Patent" is celebrated in Swift's Drapier letters.

 

5 Macmillan, 1900.

 

6 Douglass.

 

7 Bullock, Monetary History of the United States, chap. v.

 

8 Ibid., chap. v. In 1780 Congress actually adopted a plan to redeem its paper issues at one fortieth of their pretended or nominal value.

 

9 R. G. Hawtrey, Currency and Credit. Longmans Green & Co., London, 1919.

 

10 Hawtrey, op. cit., chap. xv.

 

11 A turn which even a Polish Chancellor of the Exchequer might envy.

 

12 In the second week of November the mark fell to 1300 to the paper pound, recovering a day or two later (Wednesday, November 9) to 980.

 

13 A month or two later they were not worth a shilling. The Russian Soviet Government was offering two hundred thousand roubles for one pre-war silver rouble!

 

14 Two dollars.

 

15 Twenty-five Soviet roubles would have been dear at a farthing.

 

16 On this note is stamped 20 Kruna to indicate that five dinars exchanged for twenty Austrian crowns.

 

17 To-day, November 30, 1921, the paper pound is worth about four fifths of a gold pound. The purchasing power of gold—say, the gold dollar—is perhaps about two thirds of what it was before the war.

 

18 Taken by permission from an article by the author in the Saturday Evening Post of November 12, 1921.






End of Project Gutenberg's The Paper Moneys of Europe, by Francis W. Hirst

*** END OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE PAPER MONEYS OF EUROPE ***

***** This file should be named 29499-h.htm or 29499-h.zip *****
This and all associated files of various formats will be found in:
        http://www.gutenberg.org/2/9/4/9/29499/

Produced by The Online Distributed Proofreading Team at
http://www.pgdp.net (This file was produced from images
generously made available by The Internet Archive/American
Libraries.)


Updated editions will replace the previous one--the old editions
will be renamed.

Creating the works from public domain print editions means that no
one owns a United States copyright in these works, so the Foundation
(and you!) can copy and distribute it in the United States without
permission and without paying copyright royalties.  Special rules,
set forth in the General Terms of Use part of this license, apply to
copying and distributing Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works to
protect the PROJECT GUTENBERG-tm concept and trademark.  Project
Gutenberg is a registered trademark, and may not be used if you
charge for the eBooks, unless you receive specific permission.  If you
do not charge anything for copies of this eBook, complying with the
rules is very easy.  You may use this eBook for nearly any purpose
such as creation of derivative works, reports, performances and
research.  They may be modified and printed and given away--you may do
practically ANYTHING with public domain eBooks.  Redistribution is
subject to the trademark license, especially commercial
redistribution.



*** START: FULL LICENSE ***

THE FULL PROJECT GUTENBERG LICENSE
PLEASE READ THIS BEFORE YOU DISTRIBUTE OR USE THIS WORK

To protect the Project Gutenberg-tm mission of promoting the free
distribution of electronic works, by using or distributing this work
(or any other work associated in any way with the phrase "Project
Gutenberg"), you agree to comply with all the terms of the Full Project
Gutenberg-tm License (available with this file or online at
http://gutenberg.net/license).


Section 1.  General Terms of Use and Redistributing Project Gutenberg-tm
electronic works

1.A.  By reading or using any part of this Project Gutenberg-tm
electronic work, you indicate that you have read, understand, agree to
and accept all the terms of this license and intellectual property
(trademark/copyright) agreement.  If you do not agree to abide by all
the terms of this agreement, you must cease using and return or destroy
all copies of Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works in your possession.
If you paid a fee for obtaining a copy of or access to a Project
Gutenberg-tm electronic work and you do not agree to be bound by the
terms of this agreement, you may obtain a refund from the person or
entity to whom you paid the fee as set forth in paragraph 1.E.8.

1.B.  "Project Gutenberg" is a registered trademark.  It may only be
used on or associated in any way with an electronic work by people who
agree to be bound by the terms of this agreement.  There are a few
things that you can do with most Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works
even without complying with the full terms of this agreement.  See
paragraph 1.C below.  There are a lot of things you can do with Project
Gutenberg-tm electronic works if you follow the terms of this agreement
and help preserve free future access to Project Gutenberg-tm electronic
works.  See paragraph 1.E below.

1.C.  The Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation ("the Foundation"
or PGLAF), owns a compilation copyright in the collection of Project
Gutenberg-tm electronic works.  Nearly all the individual works in the
collection are in the public domain in the United States.  If an
individual work is in the public domain in the United States and you are
located in the United States, we do not claim a right to prevent you from
copying, distributing, performing, displaying or creating derivative
works based on the work as long as all references to Project Gutenberg
are removed.  Of course, we hope that you will support the Project
Gutenberg-tm mission of promoting free access to electronic works by
freely sharing Project Gutenberg-tm works in compliance with the terms of
this agreement for keeping the Project Gutenberg-tm name associated with
the work.  You can easily comply with the terms of this agreement by
keeping this work in the same format with its attached full Project
Gutenberg-tm License when you share it without charge with others.

1.D.  The copyright laws of the place where you are located also govern
what you can do with this work.  Copyright laws in most countries are in
a constant state of change.  If you are outside the United States, check
the laws of your country in addition to the terms of this agreement
before downloading, copying, displaying, performing, distributing or
creating derivative works based on this work or any other Project
Gutenberg-tm work.  The Foundation makes no representations concerning
the copyright status of any work in any country outside the United
States.

1.E.  Unless you have removed all references to Project Gutenberg:

1.E.1.  The following sentence, with active links to, or other immediate
access to, the full Project Gutenberg-tm License must appear prominently
whenever any copy of a Project Gutenberg-tm work (any work on which the
phrase "Project Gutenberg" appears, or with which the phrase "Project
Gutenberg" is associated) is accessed, displayed, performed, viewed,
copied or distributed:

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with
almost no restrictions whatsoever.  You may copy it, give it away or
re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included
with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.net

1.E.2.  If an individual Project Gutenberg-tm electronic work is derived
from the public domain (does not contain a notice indicating that it is
posted with permission of the copyright holder), the work can be copied
and distributed to anyone in the United States without paying any fees
or charges.  If you are redistributing or providing access to a work
with the phrase "Project Gutenberg" associated with or appearing on the
work, you must comply either with the requirements of paragraphs 1.E.1
through 1.E.7 or obtain permission for the use of the work and the
Project Gutenberg-tm trademark as set forth in paragraphs 1.E.8 or
1.E.9.

1.E.3.  If an individual Project Gutenberg-tm electronic work is posted
with the permission of the copyright holder, your use and distribution
must comply with both paragraphs 1.E.1 through 1.E.7 and any additional
terms imposed by the copyright holder.  Additional terms will be linked
to the Project Gutenberg-tm License for all works posted with the
permission of the copyright holder found at the beginning of this work.

1.E.4.  Do not unlink or detach or remove the full Project Gutenberg-tm
License terms from this work, or any files containing a part of this
work or any other work associated with Project Gutenberg-tm.

1.E.5.  Do not copy, display, perform, distribute or redistribute this
electronic work, or any part of this electronic work, without
prominently displaying the sentence set forth in paragraph 1.E.1 with
active links or immediate access to the full terms of the Project
Gutenberg-tm License.

1.E.6.  You may convert to and distribute this work in any binary,
compressed, marked up, nonproprietary or proprietary form, including any
word processing or hypertext form.  However, if you provide access to or
distribute copies of a Project Gutenberg-tm work in a format other than
"Plain Vanilla ASCII" or other format used in the official version
posted on the official Project Gutenberg-tm web site (www.gutenberg.net),
you must, at no additional cost, fee or expense to the user, provide a
copy, a means of exporting a copy, or a means of obtaining a copy upon
request, of the work in its original "Plain Vanilla ASCII" or other
form.  Any alternate format must include the full Project Gutenberg-tm
License as specified in paragraph 1.E.1.

1.E.7.  Do not charge a fee for access to, viewing, displaying,
performing, copying or distributing any Project Gutenberg-tm works
unless you comply with paragraph 1.E.8 or 1.E.9.

1.E.8.  You may charge a reasonable fee for copies of or providing
access to or distributing Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works provided
that

- You pay a royalty fee of 20% of the gross profits you derive from
     the use of Project Gutenberg-tm works calculated using the method
     you already use to calculate your applicable taxes.  The fee is
     owed to the owner of the Project Gutenberg-tm trademark, but he
     has agreed to donate royalties under this paragraph to the
     Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation.  Royalty payments
     must be paid within 60 days following each date on which you
     prepare (or are legally required to prepare) your periodic tax
     returns.  Royalty payments should be clearly marked as such and
     sent to the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation at the
     address specified in Section 4, "Information about donations to
     the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation."

- You provide a full refund of any money paid by a user who notifies
     you in writing (or by e-mail) within 30 days of receipt that s/he
     does not agree to the terms of the full Project Gutenberg-tm
     License.  You must require such a user to return or
     destroy all copies of the works possessed in a physical medium
     and discontinue all use of and all access to other copies of
     Project Gutenberg-tm works.

- You provide, in accordance with paragraph 1.F.3, a full refund of any
     money paid for a work or a replacement copy, if a defect in the
     electronic work is discovered and reported to you within 90 days
     of receipt of the work.

- You comply with all other terms of this agreement for free
     distribution of Project Gutenberg-tm works.

1.E.9.  If you wish to charge a fee or distribute a Project Gutenberg-tm
electronic work or group of works on different terms than are set
forth in this agreement, you must obtain permission in writing from
both the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation and Michael
Hart, the owner of the Project Gutenberg-tm trademark.  Contact the
Foundation as set forth in Section 3 below.

1.F.

1.F.1.  Project Gutenberg volunteers and employees expend considerable
effort to identify, do copyright research on, transcribe and proofread
public domain works in creating the Project Gutenberg-tm
collection.  Despite these efforts, Project Gutenberg-tm electronic
works, and the medium on which they may be stored, may contain
"Defects," such as, but not limited to, incomplete, inaccurate or
corrupt data, transcription errors, a copyright or other intellectual
property infringement, a defective or damaged disk or other medium, a
computer virus, or computer codes that damage or cannot be read by
your equipment.

1.F.2.  LIMITED WARRANTY, DISCLAIMER OF DAMAGES - Except for the "Right
of Replacement or Refund" described in paragraph 1.F.3, the Project
Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation, the owner of the Project
Gutenberg-tm trademark, and any other party distributing a Project
Gutenberg-tm electronic work under this agreement, disclaim all
liability to you for damages, costs and expenses, including legal
fees.  YOU AGREE THAT YOU HAVE NO REMEDIES FOR NEGLIGENCE, STRICT
LIABILITY, BREACH OF WARRANTY OR BREACH OF CONTRACT EXCEPT THOSE
PROVIDED IN PARAGRAPH F3.  YOU AGREE THAT THE FOUNDATION, THE
TRADEMARK OWNER, AND ANY DISTRIBUTOR UNDER THIS AGREEMENT WILL NOT BE
LIABLE TO YOU FOR ACTUAL, DIRECT, INDIRECT, CONSEQUENTIAL, PUNITIVE OR
INCIDENTAL DAMAGES EVEN IF YOU GIVE NOTICE OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH
DAMAGE.

1.F.3.  LIMITED RIGHT OF REPLACEMENT OR REFUND - If you discover a
defect in this electronic work within 90 days of receiving it, you can
receive a refund of the money (if any) you paid for it by sending a
written explanation to the person you received the work from.  If you
received the work on a physical medium, you must return the medium with
your written explanation.  The person or entity that provided you with
the defective work may elect to provide a replacement copy in lieu of a
refund.  If you received the work electronically, the person or entity
providing it to you may choose to give you a second opportunity to
receive the work electronically in lieu of a refund.  If the second copy
is also defective, you may demand a refund in writing without further
opportunities to fix the problem.

1.F.4.  Except for the limited right of replacement or refund set forth
in paragraph 1.F.3, this work is provided to you 'AS-IS' WITH NO OTHER
WARRANTIES OF ANY KIND, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO
WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTIBILITY OR FITNESS FOR ANY PURPOSE.

1.F.5.  Some states do not allow disclaimers of certain implied
warranties or the exclusion or limitation of certain types of damages.
If any disclaimer or limitation set forth in this agreement violates the
law of the state applicable to this agreement, the agreement shall be
interpreted to make the maximum disclaimer or limitation permitted by
the applicable state law.  The invalidity or unenforceability of any
provision of this agreement shall not void the remaining provisions.

1.F.6.  INDEMNITY - You agree to indemnify and hold the Foundation, the
trademark owner, any agent or employee of the Foundation, anyone
providing copies of Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works in accordance
with this agreement, and any volunteers associated with the production,
promotion and distribution of Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works,
harmless from all liability, costs and expenses, including legal fees,
that arise directly or indirectly from any of the following which you do
or cause to occur: (a) distribution of this or any Project Gutenberg-tm
work, (b) alteration, modification, or additions or deletions to any
Project Gutenberg-tm work, and (c) any Defect you cause.


Section  2.  Information about the Mission of Project Gutenberg-tm

Project Gutenberg-tm is synonymous with the free distribution of
electronic works in formats readable by the widest variety of computers
including obsolete, old, middle-aged and new computers.  It exists
because of the efforts of hundreds of volunteers and donations from
people in all walks of life.

Volunteers and financial support to provide volunteers with the
assistance they need are critical to reaching Project Gutenberg-tm's
goals and ensuring that the Project Gutenberg-tm collection will
remain freely available for generations to come.  In 2001, the Project
Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation was created to provide a secure
and permanent future for Project Gutenberg-tm and future generations.
To learn more about the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation
and how your efforts and donations can help, see Sections 3 and 4
and the Foundation web page at http://www.pglaf.org.


Section 3.  Information about the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive
Foundation

The Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation is a non profit
501(c)(3) educational corporation organized under the laws of the
state of Mississippi and granted tax exempt status by the Internal
Revenue Service.  The Foundation's EIN or federal tax identification
number is 64-6221541.  Its 501(c)(3) letter is posted at
http://pglaf.org/fundraising.  Contributions to the Project Gutenberg
Literary Archive Foundation are tax deductible to the full extent
permitted by U.S. federal laws and your state's laws.

The Foundation's principal office is located at 4557 Melan Dr. S.
Fairbanks, AK, 99712., but its volunteers and employees are scattered
throughout numerous locations.  Its business office is located at
809 North 1500 West, Salt Lake City, UT 84116, (801) 596-1887, email
business@pglaf.org.  Email contact links and up to date contact
information can be found at the Foundation's web site and official
page at http://pglaf.org

For additional contact information:
     Dr. Gregory B. Newby
     Chief Executive and Director
     gbnewby@pglaf.org


Section 4.  Information about Donations to the Project Gutenberg
Literary Archive Foundation

Project Gutenberg-tm depends upon and cannot survive without wide
spread public support and donations to carry out its mission of
increasing the number of public domain and licensed works that can be
freely distributed in machine readable form accessible by the widest
array of equipment including outdated equipment.  Many small donations
($1 to $5,000) are particularly important to maintaining tax exempt
status with the IRS.

The Foundation is committed to complying with the laws regulating
charities and charitable donations in all 50 states of the United
States.  Compliance requirements are not uniform and it takes a
considerable effort, much paperwork and many fees to meet and keep up
with these requirements.  We do not solicit donations in locations
where we have not received written confirmation of compliance.  To
SEND DONATIONS or determine the status of compliance for any
particular state visit http://pglaf.org

While we cannot and do not solicit contributions from states where we
have not met the solicitation requirements, we know of no prohibition
against accepting unsolicited donations from donors in such states who
approach us with offers to donate.

International donations are gratefully accepted, but we cannot make
any statements concerning tax treatment of donations received from
outside the United States.  U.S. laws alone swamp our small staff.

Please check the Project Gutenberg Web pages for current donation
methods and addresses.  Donations are accepted in a number of other
ways including including checks, online payments and credit card
donations.  To donate, please visit: http://pglaf.org/donate


Section 5.  General Information About Project Gutenberg-tm electronic
works.

Professor Michael S. Hart is the originator of the Project Gutenberg-tm
concept of a library of electronic works that could be freely shared
with anyone.  For thirty years, he produced and distributed Project
Gutenberg-tm eBooks with only a loose network of volunteer support.


Project Gutenberg-tm eBooks are often created from several printed
editions, all of which are confirmed as Public Domain in the U.S.
unless a copyright notice is included.  Thus, we do not necessarily
keep eBooks in compliance with any particular paper edition.


Most people start at our Web site which has the main PG search facility:

     http://www.gutenberg.net

This Web site includes information about Project Gutenberg-tm,
including how to make donations to the Project Gutenberg Literary
Archive Foundation, how to help produce our new eBooks, and how to
subscribe to our email newsletter to hear about new eBooks.



JGC Logo Valid HTML5 Logo HTML5 Logo Valid CSS3 Logo JGC Logo
Copyright logo
This page (29499-h.htm) was last modified on Sunday 27/01/2013