My First Seventy-Six Years: Autobiography

By Hjalmar Horace Greeley Schacht | Go to book overview

CHAPTER FORTY-ONE
Conversion Fund and Mefo-bills

IN May, after my return from America and before my departure to attend the World Economic Conference in London, I called a meeting of the banking representatives of our creditors in other countries. They came from France, Britain, the United States, Belgium, Holland, Switzerland and Sweden, each with the intention of keeping a watchful eye on the interests of his creditor compatriots. It is true that they came without legal mandate--it would have been impossible to execute such a mandate in view of the large number of creditors--but they were invested with authority by virtue of the very confidence which the creditors of their respective countries reposed in them.

At this Berlin Conference I submitted all financial and economic data which proved Germany's incapacity to continue paying interest on her foreign loans. Since it had gradually become clear that Germany could pay her debts only if she achieved correspondingly large exports, I dwelt above all on the obstacles that other countries placed in the way of our export trade.

In a survey of the year at the end of 1931 the Frankfurter Zeitung confirmed that fantastically high tariff walls had been erected around those countries which had hitherto absorbed fourfifths of German exports. French tariffs had not only been raised, but for the first time tariff quotas had been fixed restricting the quantity of imported goods. Poland had increased her industrial duties by one hundred per cent. Many other countries were not content with increasing tariffs but followed the French example and restricted the quantity of imported goods by the imposition of quotas. Then followed the creation of import monopolies, special import duties, compulsion as to the expenditure on homeproduced goods and similar measures; added to which Britain and several other countries had devalued their currencies, thereby attaining considerable advantage over Germany in world markets. Under no circumstances was I going to take the necessary steps on my own authority while, on the other hand, the creditors' representatives were unable to grant me legal power of attorney. We therefore agreed that, after joint consultation, the Reichsbank would have to set matters in train. All enquiries relating to the

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