Industrial Peace, Vol. 3 (Classic Reprint)

Industrial Peace, Vol. 3 (Classic Reprint)

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Excerpt from Industrial Peace, Vol. 3

In the February issue of this journal there appeared article on the financing of exports, in which the merits and limitations of various schemes of export credits and credit insurance were described. It was pointed out that the two great obstacles to trade with most of the countries of Europe at the present time are first, the lack of purchasing power (in the form of exportable goods) and, secondly, the variability of the rates of exchange. European currencies have depreciated in terms of the sovereign on account partly of inflation in the continental countries concerned, and partly of the indebtedness of the latter to ourselves and other countries outside Europe, such indebtedness representing claims which can be pressed at the will of the creditor. But depreciation and variability are not quite the same thing. If the values of European currencies, though depreciated, were fairly constant (or their changes could be foreseen and estimated), international trade would be comparatively simple and without great risk. But they constantly vary, and in a manner which cannot be foreseen and discounted in advance. Such variation is due partly to the continued resort to inflation as a means of providing Government funds which should be obtained from taxation, and partly to the continued export of promises to pay, in return for imports.

Europe needs the goods which we can and do produce, but she cannot buy them. Consequently our warehouses are full to overflowing. Manufacturers, being unable to sell their goods, are also unable to repay the banks the loans which were intended and expected to be of short duration, and were used to pay for the raw materials and labour employed in making such goods. Consequently the banks are unable to use such credits to finance current production. Can the problem be solved? We believe that much can be done by courageous action.

From the point of view of the necessitous States of Europe the problem is first to create purchasing power, and secondly to stabilise the exchanges. If the exchanges are to be stabilised the European States must be provided with both the power and the incentive to control their currencies.

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