The Inter-Ally Debts: An Analysis of War and Post-War Public Finance, 1914-1923

By Harvey E. Fisk | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VII
Market Borrowing of Each Belligerent 1914-1920

AT this point the reader may profitably turn to the chapters on wealth and income. A perusal of these chapters will give one a good idea of the relative economic strength of the belligerent nations at the beginning of the war and today.

The sections of these chapters dealing with the question of foreign investments and foreign indebtedness have a direct bearing upon the reasons why certain of the powers at war could freely obtain foreign goods. This was because they could pay for them either in gold of which they had a limited supply, or especially that they could pay foreign farmers, manufacturers or merchants for their goods in the money of their own country. This money was obtained either by the direct sale on their stock exchanges of the national, state, municipal or corporation stocks and bonds of the nations from which the munitions were being bought, or by arranging loans secured by such collateral through the bankers of these nations. These stocks or bonds were borrowed or bought by their governments from citizens of the buying nations who had acquired them in former years by investment of their savings. In cases where securities were bought, the seller was paid in home currencies; where the securities were borrowed the owners received interest-bearing receipts and usually a bonus "for use" of the collateral.

Nations with small foreign investments, like Russia for example, could arrange direct purchases only to a limited degree and therefore could obtain any important amount of foreign goods only by availing of the good offices of allies

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