Utility and All That: And Other Essays

By D. H. Robertson | Go to book overview

8
THE PROBLEM OF EXPORTS1

LIKE all conscientious Englishmen, I keep permanently scribed on the 'Agenda' page of my pocket diary two entries. (1) mem.: must raise net reproduction rate to at least one; (2) mem.: must increase volume of exports by at least 50 per cent above 1938 level. It looks to me, from what I see about me, as if the first of these affairs was for the moment going pretty briskly; about the progress of the second, living as I now do equally remote from the whirring of wheels in the factories and the whirring of pens in Whitehall, I feel the need of further guidance, which the practical persons who form the main body of the membership of these two societies are well fitted to supply.

Out of what one picks up by eye and ear it is possible to form two somewhat inconsistent pictures. According to the one, British exporters stand straining at the leash, their contacts made, their contracts in many cases signed, waiting only for the relaxation of controls over man-power, factory-space and raw materials to pour their goods into a thirsty world. If there be any gaps in information or organisation, Betro, a monster as creditable to British enterprise after his kind as Pluto and Fido after their kinds, stands ready to fill them. That 50 per cent is practically in the bag! After all, why should it not be so? Over many parts of the world, in the East especially, but also much nearer home, prices, at current rates of sterling exchange, rule absurdly high; and though wise men, thinking of the future and remembering the 1920 past, will be careful not to profiteer, they are naturally not averse from going for the most paying markets.

According to the other view, this is far too rosy a picture. Firms there may be, and countries there may be, of which it holds good; but for the purpose of what we have learnt to call a global

____________________
1
Paper read to the Annual Meeting of the Royal Economic Society, at Chatham House, June 1945: printed in Economic Journal, December 1945.

-135-

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Utility and All That: And Other Essays
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Preface 7
  • Contents 9
  • Part I 11
  • 1 - UTILITY AND ALL THAT 13
  • 2 - THE ECONOMIC OUTLOOK 42
  • 3 - ON STICKING TO ONE'S LAST 60
  • 4 - REVOLUTIONIST'S HANDBOOK 66
  • Part II 81
  • 5 - WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO THE RATE OF INTEREST 83
  • 6 - SOME NOTES ON THE THEORY OF INTEREST 97
  • 7 - BRITISH NATIONAL INVESTMENT POLICY 116
  • Part III 133
  • 8 - THE PROBLEM OF EXPORTS 135
  • 9 - DOES BRITAIN FACE COLLAPSE? 140
  • 10 - WESTERN EUROPEAN ECONOMIC UNION 148
  • 11 - BRITAIN AND EUROPEAN RECOVERY 157
  • 12 - BRETTON WOODS 169
  • 13 - THE TERMS OF TRADE1 174
  • Part IV 183
  • 14 - IS THERE A FUTURE FOR BANKING? 185
  • 15 - NEW LIGHT ON AN OLD STORY 192
  • 16 - STABLE MONEY 201
  • INDEX OF PERSONS 206
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