Economic Planning and the Tariff: An Essay on Social Philosophy

By James Gerald Smith | Go to book overview

APPENDIX V
INFLATION, COLLAPSE, AND LIQUIDATION IN INTERNATIONAL FINANCE, 1925-1933

The inflation, collapse and liquidation of international credit during the post-war period, with the United States as a leading creditor nation, is not without historical precedent. The flow of international capital developed into a highly speculative stage early in the nineteenth century, and brought heavy losses to British investors at the time when England began to play a leading rôle as a creditor nation. The speculative excess of this period of British international finance is illustrated in the case of a company formed "to drain the Red Sea in search of the gold and jewels left by the Egyptians in their passage after the Israelites."1 As a result of similar wildcat schemes during that period the banking class, even though represented by such able men as Rothschild and Ricardo, lost prestige. Huskisson, writing in 1822, commented that "finance, of all political subjects is that which, in its own nature, is most on a level with the reach even of ordinary half educated minds."2

However, international finance, under the leadership of the London money market, recovered rapidly from this early setback, and with the exception of the years immediately following the political disturbances of 1848, British capital continued to flow overseas in ever increasing amounts throughout the remainder of the nineteenth century and the early part of the twentieth century. The social and economic benefits were considerable, both to the borrowing nations which needed capital for the development of their extensive resources and for the lending nations which needed a source of income from their savings. It can hardly be questioned that the movement of international capital during this period, under the guidance and developed

____________________
1
Francis John, History of the Bank of England and Its Times and Traditions ( London, 1848), Vol. II, 3rd ed., p. 3. Cited from a paper presented July 6, 1934, at the Public Affairs Institute, University, Va., by Professor George W. Edwards entitled "National Monetary Systems and International Capital Movements".
2
Powell E. T., Evolution of the Money Market, pp. 225-56.

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