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Page:Economic Development in Denmark Before and During the World War.djvu/99

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LEGISLATION CAUSED BY THE WAR

of which nobody could have dreamed before. At the same time need was felt of taking other measures which completely overturned all previous ideas. To prevent runs on the savings banks, as well as on the other banks, an act of August provided that the Secretary of Commerce could limit strictly the amounts which might be paid out on pass-books or deposit-vouchers; and since a run was made on the National Bank by people anxious to exchange notes for gold, so that the square in front of the building was literally jammed, another act was passed on the same day suspending the obligation of the National Bank to redeem the notes, leaving it to the discretion of the bank to redeem them or not. The first of these two acts soon became superfluous; for as soon as the people had recovered from their first panic, money flowed into the banks to an extent never known before.

The neutrality of Denmark during the World War created for her unique economic opportunities. There was a great demand for goods which she had on hand or could readily procure. Shrewd merchants and manufacturers recognized their opportunity, and in a very short time many of them made large fortunes. But this was not to the advantage of the majority. In the eager race to purchase the commodities which Denmark was able to deliver, prices rose and the populace was in danger of serious privation. It required an enormous amount of negotiation with the belligerent countries to secure export licences for the goods which Denmark needed in return for those which she was able to deliver, and it was not an easy task for the representatives of commerce and trade on whom it devolved to conduct these negotiations to make satisfactory arrangements.

The measures taken to secure the necessary goods for the population brought forth a steady stream of export prohibitions, besides an extraordinary number of price regulations. In most cases these regulations established maximum prices, sometimes by agreement with the manufacturers concerned. But it is obvious that such measures could not be satisfactory