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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/189

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CHANGES IN VALUES OF PRECIOUS METALS.

and deprived of some ancient prerogative, the disturbances in question are the same in character as have always accompanied the use of a depreciated, fluctuating currency, with this additional and novel peculiarity—namely, that while, heretofore, depreciation of currency has been due to the forced issue of redundant and irredeemable paper money or debased coin, and has been local in its influence, the present experience is due to a depreciation in the value of one of the precious metals with reference to the other, and extends to many countries in very different degrees. Let us particularize these disturbances, and see how serious or otherwise have been their resulting influence.

In the United States, all the evil which has thus far been experienced has been solely from apprehensions of evil in the future, which in turn have been occasioned by the circumstance that the United States, in harmony with her protective policy, buys from the owners of the (present) most productive and cheaply-worked silver-mines in the world, silver bullion for coinage to the value of $2,000,000 monthly, irrespective of any current demand or necessity for such coinage on the part of her own people. In the coinage system of Great Britain the function of silver remains as it has for a long period, almost as unimportant as that of copper. In Germany, "although the imperial mark is now everywhere recognized as the standard, all Germans, whether they live in Bavaria, Prussia, or Hanover, are able to sell their commodities with the consciousness that the 'marks' they receive in payment for them are good money, with the same purchasing power, whether paid out as silver thalers or as gold crowns."[1]

Furthermore, at a meeting of the representatives of the various Chambers of Commerce in Germany, in March, 1887, seventy-one chambers to four voted against any change in the existing monetary policy of the Empire. In the other states of Europe, the currencies of which are on a specie-paying basis, the situation is substantially the same as in Germany.[2] In exclusively silver-using countries, like India and Mexico, the decline in the value of silver has not appreciably affected its purchasing power in respect to all domestic products and services; but the silver of such countries will not exchange for the same amount of gold as formerly, and it might be supposed that, owing to this change in

  1. Communication by a director of the Bank of England (Mr. H. H. Gibbs) to the "Dar Kampf une die Währung," Berlin, April 30, 1886.
  2. "There are no indications of any change in the policy of the fiscal authorities of the several states visited by me (Great Britain, France, Germany, Belgium, and Holland) which warrant any expectation that the subject of a bimetallic treaty for a common legal tender, coupled with the free coinage of silver, will be seriously considered at the present time by them. . . .

    "There is no indication that the subject of bimetallism has received any intelligent or serious consideration, outside of a small circle in each country named, as a probable or possible remedy for the existing causes of alleged depression in trade."—Report to the President of the United States "On the Present Status of Bimetallism in Europe, October, 1887, by Edward Atkinson.