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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/193

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CHANGES IN VALUES OF PRECIOUS METALS.

the official statistics of the trade between the two countries since 1873 (notoriously undervalued) fail to show that any serious interruption has occurred; the domestic exports from the United States to Mexico having increased from 83,941,000 in 1873, to 811,089,000 in 1884; while the exports from Mexico to the United States during the same period increased from 84,276,000 to 89,016,000.

In recent years there has been a notable increase in the cotton manufacturing industry of India—i. e., from fifteen factories, with 450,156 spindles and 4,972 looms in 1873, to seventy factories, with 1,698,000 spindles and 14,635 looms in 1884; and the cause of this increase, which is enabling India to compete (as never before) with Lancashire (England) in supplying cotton yarn and fabrics to the Indian and other Eastern markets, and to the alleged serious detriment of English interests, is popularly believed and asserted to have been occasioned mainly by the decline and fluctuations in the price of silver. The cross-examination of experts in the Anglo-Indian trade by the British Gold and Silver Commission conclusively showed, however, that the prime cause of the increasing ability of India cotton manufacturers to compete successfully with those of England is to be found in the advantages which accrue to the former from the lower wages and longer factory-hours[1] of their employés. But the existing differences as respects the condition of labor in England and India have existed from time immemorial; and the only novelty of the present situation is, that now India, with railroads and factories, and the advantage of cheap ocean freights, is emancipating herself from chronic sluggishness and beginning to participate in the world's progress; and under English auspices, and largely with English capital, is, for the first time, extensively utilizing her cheap and abundant labor in connection with labor-saving machinery. And it is to be further noted that her progress in cotton manufacturing exhibited itself unmistakably some years before the commencement of the decline in silver; that the first shipment of cotton yarns from India to China, in competition with yarns of English make, was in 1866, and that between 1865 and 1873 the increase in the number of cotton spindles in India was in excess of 57 per cent.

The belief is also very general that the decline in silver has abnormally stimulated exports from silver-using countries, to the great detriment of the wheat-growers of the United States and Australia, who offer their surplus in competition with the surplus of India upon the European market. Nothing is easier than to get into a state of mental confusion in respect to this matter, and, in fact, there seems to be no assignable limit to the multiplication of words upon it.

  1. The hours of labor in the factories of Bombay are reported at eighty per week in comparison with fifty-six per week in England. The wages of skilled labor in Bombay, in common with the wages of similar labor in countries of the western hemisphere, are reported to have materially advanced in the recent years.