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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 30

The Question of Monopoly

The Question of Monopoly.

There is another effect which the contraction of credit would have upon the commercial world and even the general public, indirectly. It would, for a time at any rate, foster monopolies. If the law between debtor and creditor were so altered as to make it impossible for debts to be recovered after a very short space of time, merchants would be extremely cautious as to whom they dealt with. In fact no transactions would take place at all, excepting with men of known integrity and means. In one sweep, then, half of those who have hitherto been doing business in a small way would be forced out of trade altogether. Now, it is as well to look at the question from all points of view, and I willingly admit that, for a time, those who found themselves able to stem the tide and still continue trading, would not fail to take advantage of the great absence of competition which the abolition of the unsound traders would bring about. The consequence would be a general rise in prices, and the public would suffer. But for how long? Until things found their level. For a brief period a few shillings or a few pounds would have been extracted from the pockets of the purchasing community, but the great equaliser, competition, would not suffer that passing moment of respite to live for long. Capital always has been and always will be seeking investment; its nature is so peculiar and unresting; so active, so searching, that idleness is to it a slow death, and to live it must be always employed. Men holding capital will see an opening for it in that very trade which they consider unsound and over-competed at the present time, and the internal strife between the traders will soon bring about a fall in prices, until the state of things, so far as the purchasing public are concerned, is just the same as it is at present. There will be only this difference:—That whereas a merchant can sell an article for a pound to-day, and has to wait six months for his money, making a nett profit perhaps of 2s; he will then be able to dispose of the same article for several shillings less, and still make his 2s. In a word, merchant, storekeeper and purchaser, will all be page 9 the better for the shortening of credit.