The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 4
To the Editor of Cincinnati Enquirer:—
Sir: The German Empire stands to-day indebted for its existence to the Zollverein or Tariff Union, under which, more than half a century ago, was inaugurated a system of protection against the outside world and of free inter-state trade among the states comprising it. Under the teachings of the political economists, however, these states have for some years past been gradually abandoning protection and embracing a British free trade policy.
* The French official returns show that the exports of gold and silver from France to Germany were as follows :—
|1871||frcs. 111,045,410||frcs. 62,440,3S0|
|1872||frcs. 8,537,710||frcs. 64,910,220|
|1873||frcs. 170,498,760||frcs. 140,935,420|
|1874||frcs. 878,400||frcs. 605,952|
|frcs. 290,960,280||frcs. 274,897,972|
|Total gold and silver||frcs. 565,858,252|
* * *The above amount is doubtless exclusive of the direct remittance by the French Government of $100,000,000, not entered at the Custom House.
|1872||frcs. 16,997,300||frcs. 54,074,200|
|1873||frcs. 8,394,800||frcs. 76,479,200|
|1874||frcs. 16,508,800||frcs. 194,054,300|
|frcs. 41,900,900||frcs. 325,807,700|
|Total gold and silver||frcs. 367,708,600|
Amount of exports in excess of imports January 1, 1871, to December 31, 1874, $39,629,930.
* Exports of gold and silver from Great Britain to Germany:—
|1875, January 1, to September 30, inclusive||1,827,145|
|1875, January 1, to September 30, inclusive||1,153,010|
Amount of exports in excess of imports, January 1, 1871, to September 30, 1875, $110,280,510.
† The excess of the imports of merchandise into Germany over and above the exports, from 1870 to 1874 inclusive, is stated by the Bavarian Vaterland, as quoted in Lippincott's Magazine, December, 1875, p. 773, as follows:—
Having but little ocean-carrying trade, and collecting annually but a moderate amount of interest on foreign indebtedness, the above is substantially a balance against Germany, which has only been settled by the French war fine, and which balance has offset all of the advantages which would have flowed from the receipt of that fine in money.
It may not be out of place here to state that the money paid for the bonds negotiated abroad by the Treasury Department of the United States, and by railroad companies and others, has to be furnished by the American people—they only receiving merchandise from abroad for this money. The importation of this merchandise has been and is still stimulated by the sale of the bonds, for which latter the foreign purchasers pay in bills of exchange drawn against the former. Germany has received her great war fine almost, if not wholly, in foreign merchandise; we have received merchandise for our bonds, and our finance minister is still permitted to persist in this suicidal policy!
But, still further, on receiving it Germany determined to adopt a new coinage with the gold standard, using silver simply for subsiduary purposes. In accordance with this scheme, by the end of September, 1875, $75,000,000 of silver, nickel, and copper coins had been withdrawn from circulation, and but $38,500,000 issued; and the government has recently been shipping silver to India to get rid of it, thinking itself very smart in selling it at 5 per cent, discount before its further depreciation in Europe. In addition to this, on January 30, 1875, it caused to be passed a bill providing for a great central Imperial Bank under the control of the chancellor of the Empire, and for the withdrawal of all notes under 100 marks ($25). The amount of these notes was then $134,000,000, of which $105,000,000 had been withdrawn by September 30, last. This amount has to some extent been replaced by notes of higher denominations, but it is impossible to overestimate the baleful effects of the retirement of such an amount of small coins and of paper under $25—the currency of the people.*
* The actual net contraction of the note circulation is over $47,000,000, which, added to $36,500,000, that of the small coins, gives a total contraction of $83,500,000 growing out of these combined operations.
"The London Morning Post of October 23 has a Berlin despatch of the 22d, saying the depression of trade is felt so keenly by the industrial classes that the government has been requested, as a means of preventing acute distress, to resort to the measure successfully adopted in the last two wars, namely, the establishment of loan banks. The government has not as yet shown much inclination to accede to the request. Serious distress is anticipated among the industrial working classes during the coming winter, and apprehensions are also entertained of a crisis in financial circles."
"In Germany there is still great depression of business, indeed almost more than in Austria. A list of prices of the safest railway and bank shares and debentures, shows a loss of more than £ 18,000,000 ($90,000,000), since the 1st of January. In commercial circles there is again a cry for loan banks, such as were of good service during the time of war, 1870—71. But as these loan banks had a right of issuing notes, there is little hope or none that their institution can be granted, the present law forbidding all extra issue of notes."
* "The Berlin correspondent of the London Times draws a somewhat dismal picture of the commercial outlook in Prussia during the coming winter. Prices are high, business dull and declining, failures numerous, and money under the new banking law very tight, and the number of the unemployed large and increasing."—N. Y. Nation, Nov. 25, 1875.
Wholly unable to control the incomings and the outgoings of gold, the government of the German Empire has transferred the foundations of its entire societary fabric to a quicksand. Involving, as this does, every interest of the nation, and with it the happiness, the morals, and even the lives of the people—being, in fact, the parent of countless sufferings and crimes—it is in itself a crime so great that there is no exaggeration in characterizing it as the sum of all crimes.
But this criminality of the governors of Germany is but a type of the doings of all governments. If the world is to advance, if the condition of the people is to improve, if the rich are not to be made steadily richer and the poor poorer, then the people must from this time forth determine to take from every government the power to select the quicksand as the place for the foundations of the societary fabric. In a word, moneys must hereafter he adopted, the quality of money in which cannot be destroyed without the total destruction of their value—it being essential when governments issue moneys, that that quality shall be preserved until by concurrent action of the government and the people it is deemed proper to retire them from circulation.* Then will they cease to be exportable. Luckily for man we have not far to seek to find such moneys. Nearly if not quite all civilized peoples are heavily weighted with the interest upon their public debts, while at the same time paying to banks annually immense sums for the use of the paper money of these banks. Let the debts be turned to a useful account, let the interest paid to banks for circulating mediums cease, let there be none but "current moneys of the realms." Let these current moneys of the realms be wholly of "paper, based on the wealth of the respective countries, and made interconvertible, at the pleasure of the holder, with the national bonds bearing a low rate of interest. This provision of interconvertibility will always ensure a supply of money in exact accordance with the demands of the people.
* A large portion of the work of the mints of the world is the melting and recoining of gold and silver which have already been coined be one or another of these mints.
The world has been led by the teachings of a false philosophy into a belief that it is the purely intrinsic value of gold and silver which gives to these metals such almost universal acceptability throughout the world. The truth is, however, this latter comes from the fact that so many governments have adopted one or the other of them as the material out of which their legal tender is made. At small expense they can, therefore, by coinage, in almost every country be made to take a form which gives them throughout that country universal acceptability for the payment of debts and the purchase of commodities and services. Let all civilized countries discard these metals as the materials for money, as eventually they will, and so large a part of their intrinsic value will immediately thereafter vanish by reason of decreased use for them, that it can only be restored by largely decreased production. We have seen how the action of Germany alone has robbed the silver thaler of from 7 to 8 per cent, of its old intrinsic value, although it is still for a time to be allowed to circulate at that value. It needs but the concurrent action of two or three more equally important governments to convert this depreciation of 7 to 8 percent, into one of 25 per cent.†
* Any scheme which looks to robbing the greenback of its legal tender quality, or of forcing the holders of it to take from the government in exchange for it anything which is neither a legal tender nor convertible into one, is a scheme for repudiation pure and simple, be it disguised as it may.
† The Director of the United States Mint, foreseeing the result here indicated, in his Report of December, 1875, calls for the protection of the silver interest in the following words :—
"The trade-dollar coinage should be continued if for no other purpose than to make a local market for the silver. Ultimately, China must have a national coinage of silver, and, in the mean time, a more extensive use of the silver coins of other countries will be found useful, not only to the Chinese, but likewise to foreign residents at the different ports. The American trade-dollar has been well received in that Empire, and if authority were given to coin at our Western mints 5, 10, 20, and 50 cent pieces of the same standard, they would no doubt find a ready market at the different commercial ports, and gradually work their way into the interior of the Empire. If this trade coinage should incidentally afford protection to our mining interests, which have already been injuriously affected by the fall in the value of silver, it could hardly be regarded otherwise than as sound national policy."
That part of the Act approved January 14, 1875, which provides for the substitution of fractional currency by silver coins, and which was brought about largely by the power of the unscrupulous silver-mining "ring" represented in the U. S. Senate, is protection enough, and none more should be granted until that act is repealed.
Note.—January 19, 1876. The Berlin Correspondent of the New York Tribune, writing under date of Dec. 8, 1875, says:—
"A paragraph in recent files of the Tribune shows me that the monetary situation in Germany is attracting attention in America. This is highly desirable. There are not many points of essential resemblance between the troubles that now afflict us and those which vex the souls of people In the United States, but there is value oven in contrast. You suffer from too much, we from too little, circulating medium.* Your inflationists are trying to argue the country out of the necessary fortitude for the resumption of specie payments; our government is practising an actual contraction before introducing a uniform gold standard throughout the Empire. The experiment on the popular patience is, therefore, not unlike that required of the American people, and it is interesting to see how it is made and borne in this land of prudent finance.
* * * * *The experience of England and France was in favor of confining bank issues to notes of largo denominations. That principle being adopted, two things became necessary—the retirement of the small bank-notes and the issue of a corresponding supply of gold and silver coin. In the course of time, however, it appeared that, in spite of the gold Received from the French indemnity, the supply of the precious metals was not equal to the extraordinary demand, and to-day we are at our wits' end for small change—in fact, for currency of any fort. Although the Bank of Prussia, which is now become the Imperial Bank, has been .steadily raising the rate of discount, which has been as high as seven per cent., it cannot satisfy the public demands for money. In the mean time the purchase of gold at London and elsewhere for recoining goes steadily forward and the mint is actively at work; but it will be many weeks, not to say months, before the currency once more reaches a sound basis. As you already know, the government has fixed on January 1, 1876, for the simultaneous introduction of the gold standard. The complaints from trading people in this crisis are loud, and, what is more, they are well grounded."
* Oh! Can it be possible that this indeed be so? Do almost identical effects ever in chemistry, mechanics, or political economy follow from diametrically opposite causes, or is it only that the philosopher who here attempts to interpret the cause from the effect, is at fault? Both the United States and Germany are to-day furnishing new and sad examples of the old, old story of the quackery of lawmakers, subordinating commerce to one of its instruments—money; exalting the servant above his master.—H. C. B.
Knowing, as we well do, how impotent all governments are to prevent the exportation of the precious metals, and therefore how utterly unstable these metals are as a basis for the financial and business affairs of a people; seeing, too, that intrinsic value is not the quality which is most regarded in money; with also the evidence furnished by the blunders of the German government—a good type of all governmental action in monetary affairs—of its utter incapacity properly to regulate the volume of currency, how in justice to the various peoples of the world can these peoples any longer be prevented from having supplied to them a domestic non-exportable currency, the volume of which shall be determined by themselves alone? They cannot, and they should no longer be, and in the ebb and flow of such a currency, made interconvertible with the national bonds bearing a low and fixed rate of interest, not exceeding 3.65 per cent, per annum, will be found "a subtile principle that will regulate the movements of finance and commerce as accurately as the motion of the steam engine is regulated by its governor. Such paper money tokens will be much nearer perfect standards of payment than gold and silver ever have been or ever can be."