The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 71
Rising and Falling Prices—Effects
Rising and Falling Prices—Effects.
If it be true, and from the evidence adduced there is no longer room to question the fact, that moneys made exclusively of the precious metals do continually rise in purchasing power, between the discovery of one great mining country and another—when their purchasing power suddenly falls, to be again restored when the product of the mines shall have disappeared—then the connection of such moneys with, and their influence upon civilisation is evident. A continued "fall of prices," not alone of farm products and manufactures, but also of lands and services, works constant injury to the agricultural, manufacturing and labouring classes, while at the same time it confers unjust and enormous benefits upon lenders of money and the recipients of fixed incomes from rents and loans—because such incomes continually become enormously enhanced in purchasing power. Prom this cause ensued the exclusive enjoyment of wealth by the landlords and money-binders of decaying Rome—of the middle ages—of the period preceding the American and French Revolution—and again by the same class of the present day. These iniquitable rewards which rob the hard earnings of industry and labour, and enrich a privileged class are the economic result of a monetary system, having its basis on a fluctuating metal, and subject to the control and monopoly of great capitalists and bankers, and when in operation for long periods of time eat like a canker into the body-politic, and entirely change the form of its development.
It will be seen from the foregoing historical facts that not high but "rising prices" have invariably been followed by progress—and not low but "falling prices" have been invariably followed by decay; and that those intervals of progress or decay thus offer the only solu- page 25 tion to an otherwise unaccountable phenomenon. In every instance, these were intervals of increasing moneys and rising prices, or decreasing moneys and falling prices. The same correspondence be-tween these occurrences, which Hume observed in the affairs of Europe, and Alison in those of Rome, is to be found in the history of every country.
The influence of a slowly rising currency in promoting the Halcyon Age of Elizabeth and Louis XIV., and again the period following 1851—of a slowly falling currency in bringing into relief those social abuses and ulcers which led to the French revolution;—and the influences of a "limitless currency," intensifying the excesses of the Reign of Terror.
That the advance or retardation of social progress and freedom in States have invariably been marked by the rise and fall of the measure of value; and when the causes come to be examined, they will be found in the relation—of money to prices—of prices to trade—of trade to prosperity and adversity—and of these conditions to social progress or decay.