T. E. Cliffe (Thomas Edward Cliffe) Leslie.

Essays in political economy online

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market is the policy of trade ; and a combination of causes has
latterly given, and is continually giving buyers, on the one hand,
access to cheaper places of production for many commodities,
and the sellers of the produce of such places, on the other hand,
easier access to the markets where their value is greatest. But
this necessarily leads to a change in the seats of production and
in relative prices, the tendency being always towards the pro-
duction of everything in the places within reach where its cost
of production is least, and towards an equality in the prices of
portable goods over the area of cheaper and closer commercial
intercommunication. Producers in particular occupations and
particular places, accordingly, have not only obtained no share
in the new treasure, getting no additional custom either from
the mining countries or from the countries these deal with, but
have even found the demand for their produce decreasing, and
transferred to other localities ; and capital and industry are in a
course of migration, not only because extraordinary profits are
offered in new regions and new employments, but also because
ordinary profits are no longer to be made in old places and old

Tlie Neiv Gold Ifhies, and Prices in Europe in 18G5. 305

The great gold movement itself— that is to say, the pro
duction and distribution of the new gold — is only a part of a
much larger movement, resulting from the new facilities of
producing many things, gold among the number, in cheaper
places than formerly, and disposing of them more readily in the
places where their value is the highest, and tlie enterprise with
which such facilities are being turned to account. The mines of
California and Australia, for which older mines were forsaken,*
are only a particular class of new sources of production from
which the markets of the world are being supplied, and their
rapid development is only a particular instance of the energy
with which cheaper and better sources of supply are sought
and developed. The bent of the industrial and commercial
movement of our times is, above all things, to discover and put
to profitable use the special resources, metallic and non-metallic,
in which each region excels, to seat every industry in the places
best adapted for it, and to apply the skill and capital of old
countries more productively in remote places with great natural
resources. ' The first phenomenon,' Mr. Patterson observes,
* attendant upon the gold discoveries, has been the great
emigration — the transfer of large masses of population from
the old seats to new ones, the vast and sudden spread of civilized
mankind over the earth. The countries where these gold-beds
have been found are in the utmost ends of the earth, regions the
most isolated from the seats of civilization. Of all spots on the
globe, California was the farthest removed from the highways of
enterprise. Not a road to it was to be found on the map of the
traveller ; not a route to it was laid down in the charts of the
mariner. Australia was, if possible, a still more isolated quarter
of the globe.' This migration to the remote regions of the new
gold is not, however, a singular and isolated movement of
industry. "We shall find, on the contrary, that the key to the
principal permanent changes in prices which have followed the

* ' The product of gold in the Atlantic States has fallen off since the discoveries
of gold in California.' — Preliminary Riport on the Eighth Census of the United
atates, p. 63.


306 The New Gold Mines ^ and Prices in Europe in 1865.

path of the new gold through the world, is to be found in the
fact that remoteness is no longer the obstacle it was to the best
territorial division of labour, and that buried natural riches and
neglected local capabilities are obtaining, in a thousand direc-
tions at once, a value proportionate rather to their actual quality
than to their nearness to market, and attracting capital and
skill by high profits to their development. For the same reason,
and by the same aids to industrial enterprise which have
brought miners and merchants to cheaper places for gold,
cheaper places for the production and pui'chase of many other
things have been contemporaneously found, and the distribution
of the new gold and its effects upon prices have been very
different from what they would have been, had the fertility of
the new mines been the only altered condition of international
trade. The general principle which regulates the distribution
of money through the world is, as we have said, that those who
receive it naturally spend it on the things they want most, and
in the places where such things can be had cheapest ; but they
have of late years obtained access to markets not formerly within
reach, and much of the new money has been absorbed in new
regions, and in the circulation of produce not before in the
market. The world may at present be divided into three classes
of regions : first, those in which prices were formerly highest ;
in the second place, those in which the new movements of trade
have already raised prices towards the level prevailing in the
former regions; and, thirdly, the places not yet within the
influence of the new means of commercial intercommunication.
The first and second class of regions may be said to be fast
merging into one, with pecuniary rates approaching to equality,
while the third class is also, in numerous directions, on the
point of assimilation. A permanent change is thus taking
place in the conditions which govern comparative prices in
different markets, and one the more worthy of notice, since, in
the earlier years after the discovery of the new mines, there was,
both in the gold countries themselves, and in the chief markets
of Europe, an abnormal, and in a great measure, temporary
elevation of prices, which, although not in reality principally

The New Gold Mines ^ and Prices in Europe in 18G5. 307

Online LibraryT. E. Cliffe (Thomas Edward Cliffe) LeslieEssays in political economy → online text (page 29 of 41)