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

By Harvey E. Fisk | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXI
The Wealth and Income of the United States

THE money value of the economic wealth of the American people was officially estimated for 1904 at $107,104,000,000. Professor W. I. King, the leading authority for the United States on this subject, estimates that the national wealth at the end of 1913 was $197,587,000,000 and, in "1913" dollars, at the close of 1918, $226,475,000,000. Probably we would be justified in adopting a round figure of $230,000,000,000 in "1913" dollars for the close of 1923. gf The preliminary estimates by the Census Bureau of the wealth of the individual states so far as published up to the time this book went to press may be found in Statistical Table XXIX.

The national income for 1903 may be roughly estimated to have been $21,000,000,000. By 1913 it had reached $34,400,000,000 and in 1923 in "1913" dollars was probably in the neighborhood of $31,000,000,000.

It may be a surprise to some that the wealth as estimated for 1923 does not show a larger increase over the pre-war estimates, but while it is true that in its earlier stages the war created many war profiteers, at the same time, it had unfortunate effects on lines of activity not directly connected with the war. After we got into the struggle, so close a check was kept upon the cost of munitions for our own country and for the Allies that the making of abnormal profits by American manufacturers, farmers and merchants was largely checked and such profits in excess of pre-war profits as were made, were very largely taken by the government through income and war profits taxes to meet the expenses of the war, including

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