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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/191

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179
CHANGES IN VALUES OF PRECIOUS METALS.

reason for supposing that the disturbances which have characterized the trade of Europe with India and the East during recent years, from fluctuations in the price of silver, have been any different in kind than, or as great in degree as, those which characterized the trade of Europe with the United States from 1861 to 1879, or which characterize to-day the trade of the outside world with Russia, whose currency is depreciated and fluctuating. Moreover, the difficulties arising from the uncertainties of exchange, at least between England and India, appear to have been greatly exaggerated. Mr. Lord, a director of the Manchester (England) Chamber of Commerce, testified before the Commission on the Depression of Trade, in 1886, that, "so far as India was concerned, it is not necessary to run any risk at all," from the uncertainties of exchange. Mr. Bythell (representing the Bombay Chamber of Commerce) testified before the same commission: "He [Mr. Gibbs] says that commerce with India is paralyzed. I deny the assertion. There is no difficulty in negotiating any transaction for shipping goods to India, and in securing exchange." It is also beginning to be generally recognized that, owing to telegraph correspondence and rapid steam communication, the risk in transacting business between different countries, contingent on fluctuations in exchange, is being gradually eliminated, inasmuch as sales and purchases, or remittances, and all the incidents of exchange, freights, commission, etc., can be practically arranged between the operators at one and the same time.[1]

But whatever may have been the disturbances resulting from fluctuations in rates of exchange between Great Britain and the silver-using countries (of which India is the chief), contingent on the fluctuations in recent years in the price of silver, these disturbances do not appear to have had any effect up to 1884-'85 in checking the volume of British trade with Eastern nations, or in changing the relations of exports and imports that previously existed. Thus, from returns officially presented to the British Gold and Silver Commission, 1886, it was established that the trade of Great Britain with India since 1874 had relatively grown faster than with any foreign country, "except the United States and perhaps Holland." Assuming 100 to represent the trade between the two countries in 1874-'75, the imports from the United Kingdom into India rose from 100 to 154 in 1884-'85, and the exports from India to the United Kingdom from 100 to 149. Much also has been said respecting the serious injury which the export trade in cotton manufactures from England to India has sustained in recent years

  1. "If trade can go on profitably between countries having an inconvertible paper of a widely fluctuating kind and the rest of the world, a fortiori, it can go on between gold and silver countries. The exchange is a hindrance and obstacle, as many other things are hindrances and obstacles, but it is nothing more. . . . Such difficulties are the ordinary incidence of trade and life, and will be dealt with like other difficulties of a far more serious kind by those concerned."—London Times, September 14, 1886.