The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 8, Issue 4 (August 1, 1933)
Roosevelt as William Tell—Unstable Prices Help “Quota”—Balbo's Atlantic Armada—Melchett and His Faith—Lovelock's Mile.
Everything that has occurred during the month serves to confirm the idea that Roosevelt experiments with the dollar in the United States prohibit, for the present at any rate, any Roosevelt commitment as to what the dollar is to be worth abroad. An international stabilisation of money values seems to presuppose stability of the several money units, each in its own country; at any rate, a stable pound, a stable dollar, and a stable franc would appear to be a necessary starting point to a world-adjustment of money as a measuring rod of value. But American internal policy, with its permissive powers to inflate, gives no guarantee of dollar stability. How, then, can the United States Government enter an international stabilisation?
Mr. MacDonald's Hopes.
There is high banker authority (American) behind the statement that a full or even liberal use of the powers given to the President by Congress would mean a flight from the dollar. How the dollar will behave at home depends upon the nicety of President Roosevelt's discrimination. As these inflationary powers poured in upon the President—gifts of a Congress that did not know what else to do—it became more and more unlikely that he would tie his hands with any pre-conference international commitment concerning the dollar's exchange value. The mystery is how Mr. Ramsay MacDonald was ever persuaded to hope otherwise. If President Roosevelt gave any confidential pre-conference assurance, its letter, if not its spirit, is evidently dead, as dead as Mr. Hoover's supposed pledge to France to maintain the gold standard.
Whether it is to be admired or not, absorption in home affairs must for the present be the fate of one who has been given revolutionary authority over currency, credit, and—in major industries—wages, hours, output, prices, etc. This elasticity in credit and production is hardly likely to be achieved with an inelastic dollar; the dollar will have to take up some of the slack. Franklin Roosevelt is the William Tell of the Twentieth Century, engaged in shooting the apple from his son's head. No one on earth can say very much about this operation till it is over. The President is drawing his bow for his own country first. If the arrow strikes true for the world at large, well and good. But the experiment is essentially national, with international results to be considered secondly.
Realisation that immediate monetary stabilisation, or even conditional stabilisation, was out of reach, winged the London Conference, but it flutters on to a probable adjournment. This further blow to money as a yardstick (as an inelastic measure of value) has strengthened the demand for quantitative restriction, popularly called the quota. The idea now is that if you cannot define a thing in terms of value, you must fix it by quantity. A champion of the quota, as a restriction on imports, is the British Minister of Agriculture, Major Elliot, who wrote in May: “The United States has just taken power to break its exchange by 50 per cent. Broken exchanges neutralise tariffs; they do not alter quotas.” The same argument underlies the utterances of those who say that the yen, and low labour costs, make ad valorem duties impotent against Japanese goods. With the collapse of its monetary tables, civilisation turns back to tables of capacity, and to barter.
A counterblast to the German anti-Jew policy was the embracing of Judaism in London by Lord Melchett, who succeeded his father, the late Lord Melchett (Sir Alfred Mond) in 1930. The Monds are known to the world for their connection with Imperial Chemical Industries, and Lord Melchett's father was the Mond of Brunner and Mond. The present Lord Melchett, until lately, was an example of pride of race rather than pride of religion; now he is an example of both. Though he was baptised into the Church of England—the established Church—his going to Judaism will be as free as that of any other man of distinction who has left or joined the Anglican Church. Will the new politically erected Church of Hitlerite Germany be equally tolerant? Lord Melchett is a director of Barclay's Bank and a student of Zionism in Palestine. Germany, under the Kaiser, sought a “corridor” through the Palestinian region to farther Asia. Hitlerism may have closed that corridor to Germany for all time.
Oceans and Air Fleets.
Formation flight across oceans has now been demonstrated to the world by Italians. General Balbo's 20 odd flying boats have flown via page 60 Iceland to Chicago, and one result should be to make Americans feel less self-contained. America is not yet as near by air to Europe as the European countries are near to each other, but distance, and the difficulties it presents, are being conquered rapidly. What is happening over the Atlantic ocean to-day may be happening over the Pacific ocean tomorrow. The depression has halted many things, but it has not halted practical attack on the problems of flight. Military strategy is altering before the eyes of the watching world, and the strategy of commercial communication and transport is not exempt from the challenge of the flying machine.
The world of athletics has been electrified by Lovelock's new mile record in America. So far there seems to be no suggestion that it is not in order; if so, this Otago lad, an amateur, holds the world's record (amateur or professional) for the classic distance. The form that was not his at the Olympic Games is with him on this second visit to America, and the Americans are therefore able to see the goods at close range. This New Zealand mile record is as big a thrill as is the Australian Crawford's Wimbledon singles championship, won from Vines. Australia and New Zealand could not have two better advertisements in the Land of the Stars and Stripes. It happens that an Australian professional, Robertson, is in America looking for matches with the middle distance and short distance champions there. In cricket, which is in season in England, the fast leg bumper is still a disturbing element. There are hopes that a County Captains’ agreement may bar it. Does such a bar automatically exclude Larwood? His friends say “No.” They say that Larwood is differentiated by his accuracy.
An Economist Impaled.
Iconoclasts have become flooded with material owing to the fact that so many big men of the war have told tales on one another. But, at a time when economists are on a pedestal, room must be found for Mr. Lloyd George's thrust at Mr. J. M. Keynes. In 1915, says Lloyd George, Keynes made the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. McKenna, nervous with anticipations of the bankruptcy of the Allies. Keynes “dashed at conclusions with acrobatic ease. It made things no better that he rushed into opposite conclusions with the same agility.” Fortunately, Mr. Bonar Law struck the idea of mobilising American securities as a backing against American supplies, “and all went well.” Well, that is, for the war; the post-war debt is another question. But Mr. Lloyd George's contempt for Mr. Keynes is brilliantly conveyed in these memoirs. The contempt is mutual. Can both of them be right?
The Silence of K.
A rather brilliant simile allows Mr. Lloyd George to leave the impression that Lord Kitchener was 75 per cent. brilliant and one-quarter stupid. K. is likened to a revolving lighthouse with an opaque side. In his flashing moments his eye and mind penetrated every thing; the rest was blind. K.'s shell economy is described in language which does not help the reader to think well of the great soldier and Lloyd George is not sure whether K. was a great man or not. But the Kitchener phases of the post-war controversy suffer from a great blank in that Kitchener himself went down with the Hampshire, and cannot share in the reminiscences. If he had lived, would he have written a book? President Woodrow Wilson has so far flashed across Mr. Lloyd George's pages through the magic of one word “probably.” With the caution of an editor, he used that word in 1915 to water down a conditional undertaking to enter the war. “Probably” has saved many a newspaper par, but it killed the 1915 negotiations stone dead.