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Joseph Lowe.

The present state of England in regard to agriculture, trade and finance; with a comparison of the prospects of England and France online

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Online LibraryJoseph LoweThe present state of England in regard to agriculture, trade and finance; with a comparison of the prospects of England and France → online text (page 32 of 40)
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14^


10


10


7


4i


6


3



100



13

14

5i
lOi

100



In calculating these proportions, we have taken the re-
sults, not of any particular year, but of a number of
years.



[12] Hisr (>/ rriccs i/uri/i^ the War. [A PP.

Com para live Comfort o/' the labour iuject of a
variety of arrangements : of these, by lar the most ellectual
is that by which they settle their daily balances against
each other, amounting (Evidence to the Bullion Ueporl,
p. 151.) to the very large sum of 5,000,000/. daily, by an
exchange of cheques, without having occasion to use more
than a tenth of the sum in bank notes. Of the same
nature, are certain facilities given at the Bank of Erigland,
in regard to the hour at which a banking house makes its
payment for tiie day; as well as the employment of money
agents or middle-men (Evidence, Bullion Report, p. 12 1.)
in obtaining sums from one banker for another, at very
short notice. These various modes of lessening the amount
of a dead stock are both ingenious and legitLn:ntc, aflbrdhig
a striking proof of the advantages attendant on a great com-
mercial connnunity, on mutual confidence, and vicinity of
position. A farther saving of this nature would luive
tbrmed one of the leading features of Mr. Ricardo's " plan
for an economical and secure currency." Now, the result,
which, on a comparative snudl scale, was attained by these
arrangements, was accomplished, en strand, by the Exemp-
tion Act; which, by one decisive provision, cnableil bankers
to dispense with the most expensive and anxious part of
their business. So flir as regarded circulation at home, its
effect partook of the beneficial character of the economising
expedients ; its weak side was towards the Continent, and
there accordingly was received the wound which proved
the source of so much pain and disquietude after 1809.

Report of the Bullion Committee. вАФ This document, the
merits of which liave been so diftlsrently estimated, may be
read with interest even at present, when the subject has re-
ceived so much additional elucidation, both from research
and from events that have intervened. The passages in the
Report which treat of the regulation of money and ex-
change, whatever, in short, can be termed an exposition of
general principles, are remarkable for accuiacy and clear-
ness : those of a different character are to be Ibund in the
latter part (pp. 23, 24-.), and are open to censure, chiefly
as implying a beUef that the Bank had the means of in-

[H] S



[22'] Oiiidntroinj (1)1(1 Exchanges. [Al'P.

crrasiii'^ its issfws at (liscrelion, as ii' the pul)lic were wholly
without the power of chcckiiip^ the circulation, u power so
clearly illustrated by Mr. Bosanquet, in liis " Practical
Observations on the Report."

Of the extent ol" misconception conveyed by disseminat-
ing the opinion that " the rise of prices was owinjr chiefly to
our bank pajier," some idea nmy be formed from one simple
fact. The total rise of prices between 1797 and 1810 was
above 30 per cent. ; and of that not more than 5 or
6 per cent, was at that time attributable to the non-con-
vertibility of our paper. (See the Essay on M(jn(y in Na-
pier's Supplement, p. 526.) In this, Ave refer to the declar-
ation of an eminent buUionist, (Mr. M'Culloch,) and cite
his authority in contradiction to that of the Bullion Com-
mittee itself.

Another serious error, or rather omission in the Report,
is an inattention to the " effect on the exchange of our sul>-
sidies and corn purchases." An admission is, indeed, made
(p. 16.) in general terms, of the effect of political and mer-
cantile transactions ; but the impression conveyed by it is
lessened by other passages (p. 21, &c.) in which the effects
in question are treated as slight, and the result of the stop-
page of American intercourse with the Continent is wholly
passed over.

That the authors of the Report had deferred for a season
the formation of their conclusions on a subject so new and
^complex, had certainly been desirable; but there seems no
ground for the suspicion of their being actuated by party
leeling. Their labours give evidence of great research and
solicitude for truth ; while the imperfections in their rea-
soning admit of explanation from circumstances similar to
those to which we have alluded in the text ; in particular,
the fact, that so much of the information now before the
public was either unknown or very imperfectly disclosed to



Online LibraryJoseph LoweThe present state of England in regard to agriculture, trade and finance; with a comparison of the prospects of England and France → online text (page 32 of 40)