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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/314

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

of a great check to their business by reason of the duties on the import of cereals. The recent report of the Stuttgart Chamber of Commerce earnestly urges the Government to improve trade by a return to its former reciprocal conditions.[1]

The idea that a few years ago found great acceptance in Europe, and undoubtedly influenced the commercial policy of the different states—namely, that increased restrictions on the importation and competitive sales of foreign products and the resort to bounties on exports would conjointly stimulate industries, relieve their markets from anything like overproduction, and inaugurate a period of general prosperity—has utterly failed of realization, and been entirely different from what was anticipated. And for the following reasons: The stimulus being artificial, was unnatural. Production rapidly increased, and soon created an additional supply of articles, which were already produced in the localities best fitted for their production, in quantities sufficient, or more than sufficient, to meet any existing market demand at remunerative prices, thus occasioning an augmentation of the very evils which it was expected the restrictive commercial policy would prevent, and which may be enumerated in their sequential order somewhat as follows: 1. Overproduction in the natural seats of production. 2. Domestic competition to effect sales destructive of all profits. 3. Special concessions of prices to effect sales in foreign countries which have been disturbing to the legitimate industries of such countries. 4. A general depression of prices, and the reduction of business profits to a minimum; all resulting in a condition of affairs which two years ago is said to have drawn out from Count Karolyi, the Prime Minister of Austria, the assertion, that "the European states, by their present retaliatory tariffs, are doing themselves more injury than the most unrestricted international competition could possibly inflict."

It seems to be also now generally conceded in Germany and other states of Europe that the depression of business and the disturbances occasioned by the fall of prices, which were most influential in inducing the general reaction in favor of protective duties in 1878, were due to causes that were not to be reached by such remedies, and that

  1. "The result of the intensive and extensive development of the protective system," observes the Stuttgart Chamber of Commerce, "notwithstanding its beneficial influences on many branches of industry, has been to doubly increase the international uncertainty which now burdens trade and commerce. Every movement in favor of protective duties results in efforts on the part of each country interested in the matter to outbid its neighbor; and the very duty which is expected to protect a nation produces a reaction on home prices, and causes them to become assimilated to those of international commerce." This Chamber believes that the prospect of a lasting improvement in trade would "be better grounded could only further exactions in international customs tariffs be avoided, and the uncertainty of market-price, which is the outcome of the protective system, be removed by an equitable establishment of mutual customs and commercial relations, by an increased stability and certainty of the duration of tariffs, and by a reciprocal return to former conditions."