A Treatise on Political Economy, Or, the Production, Distribution, and Consumption of Wealth

By Jean-Baptiste Say; Clement C. Biddle et al. | Go to book overview

he sells it to the cotton spinner, if the spinner after spinning sell it immediately to the weaver, if the weaver dispose of it forthwith to the calico printer, and he in his, turn sell it without, much delay to the retail dealer, from whom it quickly passes to the consumer, this rapid circulation will have occupied for a shorter period the capital embarked by these respective producers; less interest of capital will have been incurred; consequently, the prime cost of the article will be lower, and the capital will have been the sooner disengaged and applicable to fresh operations.

All these different purchases and sales with many others that, for brevity's sake, I have not noticed, were indispensable before the Brazil cotton could be worn in the shape of printed calicoes. They are so many productive fashions given to this product; and the more rapidly they may have been given, the more benefit will have been derived from the production. But, if the same commodity be merely sold several times over ia a year in the same place without undergoing any fresh modification, this circulation would be a loss instead of a gain, and would increase, instead of reducing the prime cost to the consumer. A capital must be employed in buying and re-selling, and interest paid for its use, to say nothing of the probable wear and tear of the commodity.

Thus, jobbing in merchandise necessarily causes a loss, either to the jobber, if the price be not raised by transaction, or to the consumer, if it be raised.*

The activity of circulation is at the utmost pitch to which it can be carried with advantage, when the product passes into the hands of a new productive agent the instant it is fit to receive a new modification, and is ultimately handed over to the consumer, the instant it has received the last finish. All kind of activity and bustle not tending to this end, far from giving additional activity to circulation, is an impediment to the course of production, --an obstacle to circulation by all means to be avoided.

With respect to the rapidity of production arising from the more skilful direction of industry, it is an increase of rapidity, not in circulation, but in productive energy. The advantage is analogous; it abridges the occupation of capital.

I have made no distinction between the circulation of goods and of money, because there really is none. While a sum of money lies idle in a merchant's coffers, it is an inactive portion of his capital, precisely of the same nature, as that part of his capital which is lying in his warehouse in the shape of goods ready for sale.

The best stimulus of useful circulation is, the natural wish of all classes, especially the producers themselves, to incur the

____________________
*
The trade of speculation, as we have before observed, (suprà, Chap. 9.) is sometimes of use in withdrawing an article from circulation, when its price is so low as to discourage the producer, and restoring it to circulation, when that price is unnaturally raised upon the consumer.

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