Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

metal movements began; silver, for instance, was exported as soon as the relation was 15.56, long before it fell below 15.50.

The legal tender moneys in France are the gold pieces and the fivefranc silver pieces, commonly called écus-they are legal tender for any debt; fractional silver and bronze pieces, only to a limited extent. A list is given of the foreign coins which are officially admitted as legal tender by the public treasuries in France: the question of wear and tear of gold is carefully explained. The government since 1889 has been active in refunding the light twenty franc pieces, so that at present the average is heavier than it was a few years ago.

In France the standard is legally silver, practically gold. Since the beginning of the century, remarkable waves have brought in or carried out of the country large supplies of both metals. M. Arnauné reviews the history of the Latin Union,* and discusses the monetary problem in France. M. de Foville thinks that France has four billions of gold, two billions of silver in five-france pieces, of which 600 millions are Belgian, Italian, Greek and Swiss; these latter are legal tender in France by virtue of the Latin Union. After a discussion of the recent monetary conferences, the writer says he does not think that the monetary problem can be practically solved. The wisest policy seems to him not to alter a situation which might be better, but which after all is tolerable, and which the slightest imprudence may imperil.

A chapter is devoted to the English monetary system, one chief feature of which is the free coinage of gold without any charge to the depositor, a result of Lord Liverpool's policy. Practically, the Bank of England buys gold at £3.17.9 per ounce; i. e., only 11⁄2d. less than the mint rate, and all charges together are 2%1⁄2 per mille; so people go the bank because the difference is less than the loss of interest through the mintage regulations would be.

One interesting feature of the present state of things in England is the revival, or rather the growth, of an active bimetallic party in which we find men of the highest standing, like Balfour, Barbour, Chaplin, Samuel Montagu, Gibbs, Grenfell, etc. However, the posi tion of England on the question seems always to be the same, viz., to encourage others to do something for silver, but to adhere herself strongly to the gold standard. Even in India she discarded free silver coinage in 1893.

The monetary system of Germany is a gold standard with a few hundred millions of old silver thalers which are still legal tender. In Chapter VI a good account is given of the monetary system of the

*Compare "Le Metal Argent à la fin du XIXe Siècle. Histoire de P Union Latine,' by Ludwig Bamberger, translated by Raphael Georges Lévy.

United States from 1792, when a bill providing for a bimetallic system with a gold and silver dollar in the proportion of one to fifteen was adopted, to the Repeal Act of 1893, when silver purchases were finally stopped.

A very interesting chapter, and one which may be of peculiar interest to American students who are not acquainted with the matter, is the seventh, in which the monetary system of Indo-China is explained. Theoretically, the system is very remarkable. The state does not claim to fix a certain relation between gold and silver, but to give the pieces the names of the weights to which they correspond exactly. Commercially, all the different pieces of metal are nothing but a definite quantity of gold, silver, copper or tin. The system has been quoted by Herbert Spencer as noteworthy; it certainly comes near to theoretical perfection. Mr. Atkinson has in the same way proposed the free issue of silver coins with a mere indication of their weight. The public could then accept or refuse them.

In Indo-China one finds other systems as well; for example, the piastre (dollar) system, which has been introduced since the French conquest, the Mexican old dollar, the Mexican eagle dollar, the American trade dollar, and, finally, the French dollar. The last one is coined in the Paris mint, and has been legal tender since 1885. It contains 24.4935 grains of silver.

Indo-China must be considered as a silver standard country, silver being practically the clearing medium of all the business there. So it is necessary to compute all the expenses and receipts of the French Government in Asia and of the colonies in those silver dollars and not in francs, as it has been formerly the practice. The exchange losses must be born by the budget.

The third part of M. Arnauné's book is devoted to the various systems of fiduciary circulation-bills of exchange, checks and bank notes. Notes have made the movement of metals every day less important, and checks and other clearing mediums now often take the place of notes. M. Arnauné gives a summary notice of the issues of the Bank of France, of England, of the United States, and recalls the most important features of their history, viz., legal tender acts in France in 1848 and 1870, suspensions of the Bank Act in London (1847, 1857 and 1866), greenbacks, national bank notes, treasury certificates, currency, gold and silver certificates, treasury notes in the United States.

Coming to the question of inconvertible paper currency, we look first at the countries where it has been, as it ought always to be, only a temporary phenomenon, as in France twice, at time of the Revolution of 1848 and of the German war (1870), in England from 1797 to

1820. In these two latter cases it simply meant the borrowing of large sums of money from the Bank by the government. The case in the United States was different, as the paper was issued directly by the Treasury (1862 and 1863). Gold premium rose in America to an enormous height, and prices of many goods were doubled or even tripled. The fourth country quoted is Italy, which nominally resumed specie payments in 1881, but is now under a practical paper currency system. Besides the three banks (Bank of Italy, of Naples and of Sicily) which are entitled to issue notes, the government itself is enabled to do so to the extent of 600 millions of francs (120 millions of dollars), and is not required to redeem these notes. The gold premium rose in 1894 to 12 per cent, and is at present about 8 per cent.

This study ought to be extended to another class of countries, where the paper currency does not seem to be a temporary evil, but has taken the shape of a chronic disease; for example, Russia, which in other respects has wonderfully improved her economic situation since the last decade; the South American Republics, Brazil, Argentine and Chile. Some attempt should be made to analyze the paper currency of these countries, and to explain their violent and enormous fluctuations. Austria has also had a very curious and interesting experience, being at present engaged in the hard work of getting rid of her inconvertible paper and introducing specie payments.

In the chapter on checks the peculiar character of banking in England is clearly explained and the growing importance of checks for clearing every kind of debt; for instance, at the Bank of England 871⁄2 per cent are paid in transfers, 124 per cent in bank notes, and only of 1 per cent in coin. In America the same figures are about 90.43 per cent, 8.10 per cent, and 1.47 per cent.* In the London clearing-house in 1893 the business handled aggregated £6,500,000,000; i. e., over thirty-two billions of dollars. All these balances were cleared, without payment of one penny of coin.

The last chapter is devoted to the securities or basis upon which paper currency is issued. Paper is not only representative of the precious metals in which it is redeemable; it also is often a medium of credit, and here lies its strength and its danger. The management of banks is a most delicate task. They cannot restrain their issues of notes to the sum of coin or bars kept in their vaults. On the other side, they must always be ready to redeem freely all outstanding notes. Practically, all the notes are never brought at once to the offices of the bank in order to be exchanged for gold or silver, but the question of this possibility must always be taken into consideration by *See Arnauné, pp. 373 and 374.

bank directors. In England the drawback is the small amount of gold in the bank and even perhaps in the country, which in a certain sense is the clearing-house of the world. Attention was called to this lack of gold by Mr. Goschen after the panic of 1890. In France the supply of gold in the vaults of the Bank and also in the hands of the public is considerable. The bank can keep the gold because, practically, gold is always in abundant supply in France, and all exchanges of late have been in favor of that country.

M. Arnauné's book is essentially what the Germans call "Nachschlagswerk." All the figures and calculations which it contains are most carefully drawn and the doctrine is sound. It is a valuable contribution as a financial encyclopædia, and will prove useful to all students in economics. RAPHAEL Georges LÉVY.

École Libre des Sciences Politique à Paris.

Proceedings of the National Conference of Charities and Correction at the Twentieth Annual Session held in Chicago, Ill., June 8-11, 1893. By ISABEL C. BARROWs. Pp. xiv, 498. Price, $1.50. Boston: Geo. H. Ellis, 1893.

This twentieth volume of the National Conference papers marks an epoch in the development of American charities. As the National Conference of 1893 was to meet in connection with the International Congress of Charities, the usual discussions of methods and principles were reserved for the more general assembly, and the program of the National Conference was devoted to the recounting of the actual progress which has been made in the administration of charities and correction in this country since the Conference began its stimulating meeting, twenty years before.

Several of the papers were prepared with great care, and the resulting volume is a most valuable compilation. Some of the papers, in accord with the design, are historical, while others attempt little else than a presentation of the present state of charitable work in some particular location or in some special line of activity. In either case it will largely be to this volume that reference will be made in order to measure the progress of future years.

The presidential address by Hastings H. Hart tells of the many ways in which the National Conferences have contributed to the progress of the past twenty years in the administration of charities and correction. The Conference is characterized under the five headings: its catholicity, its optimism, its practicality, its personnel, and the simplicity of its organization.

The History of State Boards of Charities was written by Oscar Craig, president of the New York Board. Charles D. Kellogg of the Charity

Organization Society of New York City describes the Charity Organization movement in America which was permanently inaugurated in Buffalo in 1877, and now embraces ninety-two associations. The report is carefully prepared and encludes an extended tabular presentation of the work of the different societies.

The catholicity of the Conference is illustrated by the paper on the History of Indoor and Outdoor Relief, in which advanced principles are disparaged, and the opinion is expressed that "actual suffering" "give little promise of ever being less," while missionaries are advised "to introduce their religious exercises with a basket of provisions or a receipt from the landlord for a month's rent!"

The next paper is the History of Immigration, by Dr. Charles S. Hoyt of the New York State Board of Charities. The National Conference has had a standing committee on immigration since 1880 and the restrictive measures which have been enacted by Congress have been largely due to its initiative. An account of the progress of immigration and of the various restrictive measures is given in compact form. The remaining historical papers are on: Child Saving, by C. D. Randall; Reformatories, by Rev. J. H. Nutting; The Prison Question, by General R. Brinkerhoff, including reports from nearly all the States and Territories; The Feeble Minded, by Dr. Walter E. Fernald, and The Insane, by Dr. C. Eugene Riggs. General Brinkerhoff's report is especially complete. Dr. Riggs' paper, while mentioning fewer dates and special institutions, gives a detailed account of improvements in the care of the insane, with a fair statement of the contending views regarding the care of chronic cases, and many valuable suggestions for the management of hospitals.

The Conference Sermon, by Washington Gladden, takes its theme from the Bible passage, "Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ For every man shall bear his own burden," and reaches the conclusion "that our bearing of our neighbors' burdens must always be of such a kind that it shall not relieve him of his own burdens, but shall make him strong and willing and proud to bear them." Reports from State corresponding secretaries, and the Minutes and Discussions complete the body of the book.

These twenty volumes of National Conference Proceedings, presenting as they do the best thoughts of earnest workers tempered by practical experience, make up an invaluable library for students of applied sociology. Every such student will be gratified to find at the close of this volume a topical index to the principal papers in the whole nineteen volumes which have preceded it. For this general index we are indebted, as the preface states, to the volunteer work of Mr. George G. Cowie, of Minnesota. DAVID I. GREEN.

« AnteriorContinuar »