Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 60.djvu/541

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OUR FOREIGN COMMERCE IN 1901.

nearly equalized by the substitution of new processes and improved machinery modeled on our own and the adoption of legislative measures aimed especially at our goods. It was pointed out in the 'Review of the World's Commerce' a year ago[1] that, in the reports of the consular officers for 1900, there ran 'along with a common note of satisfaction, a warning, here and there, of a more strenuous competition, which, in the end, may counterbalance our superior advantages to a considerable extent and check our progress in the world's markets, unless we equip ourselves in the meantime for the ultimate phases of the struggle.' As yet, it cannot be said that Europe has made any sensible progress, in actual performance, toward more strenuous competition. The measures adopted thus far are almost wholly tentative or preparatory, and it may be that those which involve restrictive legislation will be abandoned if the United States should consent to modify. its tariff policy and permit the importation of a larger volume of European goods in return for similar concessions.

An English View of American Competition.

Upon the other hand, the decline in our exports of manufactures is taken in some quarters to indicate a subsidence in the aggressiveness and force of our competition. The London Times of January 7, 1902, in a careful review of our material progress in 1901, inclines to the view that we may have reached 'the top of the wave of commercial prosperity' and that the danger apprehended from the United States of 'aggressive economic interference with other countries' is not so serious as it was generally thought to be in the earlier stages of our expansion. Great as has been the real commercial and industrial success of the United States during the last two or three years, says the Times, "we are convinced that it is insufficient to warrant the view of its economic results taken either by sanguine Americans or by timid Europeans. The United States are not, as many Americans and some foreigners seem to imagine, exempt from the laws of nature. There are people who are so fascinated by great relative magnitude that they are unable to distinguish between it and infinity. Their judgment becomes, so to speak, polarized by the too intense contemplation of great but variable economic forces, just as a compass needle is disturbed by the proximity of a relatively large mass of iron, and their minds become incapable of receiving impressions from evidence that the really permanent economic forces are not dead or even sleeping. Now, there have been several pieces of evidence during the past year that the economic situation in the United States is not altogether so good as it appears to those who merely look at and discuss the surface,


  1. 'Review of the World's Commerce for 1900.'