Journal of Banking

Something to ponder:—
many of the great advocates of “protective” tariff were also advocates of a privately owned central bank; the protective tariff mainly helped present and future monopolies, benefit to the workers was incidental. Henry Clay the leading figure of tariff agitation was also a leading figure of bank agitation —in 1811 Henry Clay delivered the best speech against a central bank, a few years later he changed his mind. In 1816 Daniel Webster voted against the charter of the second bank of the United States; in 1824 delivered a long speech in the House in opposition to the proposed tariff; later, he, too, changed his mind, and became a leading advocate of bank and tariff.

American Manufactures.

Of late years American Manufacturers have had fearful odds to contend with;– nothing less than all the State Governments, (the few excepted that have not run in debt abroad,) and all the Banks in the country.

They have had the State Governments to contend with, because the proceeds of the greater part of the loans that have been negotiated in Europe have been brought to the United States, in the form of manufactured articlee. British and American manufacturers have not been suffered to enter into fair and free competition in our home market. The State Governments have interfered in favor of the former, and by mortgaging all the land and all the productive powers of the people, to pay for imported goods, have given the British manufacturer great advantages over the American.

But our manufacturers have had still more fearful enemies in the Banks. By their excessive issues, these institutions have made the country a good one for foreigners to sell in and a poor one for them to buy in. They have thus increased importation and dimished exportation. They have done more than this. By their “expansions” they have increased prices when the manufacturer was under the necessity of buying, and by their “contractions” they have diminished prices when he was under the necessity of selling. They have, also, by conferring credit on men who never were justly entitled to credit, induced our manufacturers to trust them to large amounts. Full nine-tenths of the losses our manufacturers have sustained, through bad debts, are to be attributed to the Banks.

Under such circumstances, we cannot wonder that manufacturing industry is depressed. Neither can we wonder that manufacturers are crying out for “additional protection.” This is only a repetition of what occurred in the former bank revulsion.

Adequate protection cannot, however, be obtained by means of a tariff, owing to the following reasons.

1st. A protective tariff, in order to be effective, must be permanent, or must at least endure for a number of years without change. The corn growers in England have such a tariff, because political power is in their hands. But political power in this country is not in the hands of the manufacturers; and if a protective tariff should be established, but a few years would elapse before it would, in all probability, be abolished.

2nd. Our extensive coast, and our extensive inland frontier, afford such facilities for smuggling, that if the duties on most articles should be raised to what is regarded as the protective point, contraband trade would, to a great extent, take the place of legitimate commerce. We cannot do what the French do, that is, employ an army of one hundred thousand men to guard the revenue from smugglers.

3rd. Just in proportion as the duties on imports are raised; the ability of the banks to expand is increased. The prices of foreign goods are enhanced accordingly: and the foreign manufacturer enters our market and sells his goods at as much profit as before. The rise of prices produced by the inflation of the currency, more than covers the addition to the duties.

These three causes must ever prevent our having a tariff that will afford efficient protection, and not a few of the manufacturers in this vicinity are well convinced of this truth. They have watched closely the operation of former tariffs. And they have thereby found that though additional duties raised the price of what they had to sell, the inflation of currency which followed raised the price of every thing they had to buy, so that instead of being gainers they were losers by the change.

What then is to be done ? Manufactures are a very important branch of industry, and we have every natural facility for carrying them on to great advantage. But efficient protection cannot, as we have seen, be secured for them by means of a tariff. How then is this desirable object to be attained ?

It can be attained in one way, and in one way only, and that is through a sound currency and sound credit system. This is the only protection American manufactures want, and the only one that can possibly prove effective.

Here it is proper to observe, that we do not believe that the adoption of a sound currency system would sink the money rate of wages as low as many imagine. Should it, however, have such an effect, the working man would not be injured thereby, because other things would fall in the same ratio. When wages are at half a dollar a day and flour at five dollars a barrel, and other things in proportion, the working man is just as well off as when wages are at a dollar a day and flour at ten dollars a barrel. The man who cannot see this, is not qualified to exercise the rights of an American citizen, and ought at once to migrate to some other country.

But, as already observed, we do not believe that the adoption of a sound currency system would sink the money rate of wages as some imagine. A day’s labor in America would then purchase more gold or silver than it would in most countries of Europe, for the same reason that it now purchases more wheat. If a day’s labor in the United States will produce a bushel of wheat or its equivalent, and if a day’s labor in Poland will produce but one-tenth part of a bushel of wheat or its equivalent, it is plain that the money rate of wages will be ten times as high in the United States as in Poland.

The adoption of a sound currency system would benefit American manufactures, not so much by causing a fall of prices, as by giving steadiness to prices. It has been found by experience in both Europe and America, that banking expansions and contractions, have the most sensible and most direct, if not the most ruinous effects on manufacturing operations. So easy is production with modern machinery, that a very small rise of prices causes a great increase of fabrics. But the manufacturer has hardly time to bring them to market, before there is a bank contraction. Then there is a glut of commodities and a scarcity of money.

The God of Nature has caused the interests of the planter of the south, and of the manufacturer of the north, to harmonize exactly. He has given to the one peculiar facilities for producing the raw material, and to the other peculiar facilities for converting it into manufactures. Through our banking system, have these two parties been set at variance. Let them cease their disputes about the tariff, and turn their arms on the common enemy, paper-money banking. Without a system of sound currency and sound credit, it is impossible for either planter or manufacturer to enjoy permanent prosperity.

“reduction of the duties, and the gradual introduction of a sounder currency, gave so vigorous a spring to our industry”John C. Calhoun, August 24, 1841.

“We must now place the manufacturer by the side of the agriculturist.”Thomas Jefferson, January 9, 1816.

 

Protection of Industry

Manayunk, May, 1837.
Testimony of Charles V. Hagner
(before the committee of the Legislature of Pennsylvania).

I have resided in this place (Manayunk) about seventeen years: have seen and closely observed its rise and progress. The first manufactory was erected in the years 1819 and 1820, by the late Captain John Towers. I built my establishment in the fall of 1820; in the beginning of that year, this was comparatively a wilderness. Since then it has grown to the extent you now see it. There are seventeen mills here, of various kinds, including the one not yet started.

I have been in the habit, for years past, of freely associating with, and hearing the views and ideas of the employers and employed in these establishments; have been a close observer of the frequent difficulties existing between them; have seen and observed the causes and effects of the “strikes” and “turn outs” that have so frequently occurred in this village in the last fifteen years. Sometimes I have considered the employers in the wrong; at others, the employed; and firmly believe, that both are the victims of a power over which they have no control, and which, with but few exceptions, and those generally with the workmen, they do not seem to understand; but which, I fully believe, so long as it exists, will produce the same effects –continual disturbances and difficulties between them: combinations of employers on the one side — trades’ unions on the other.

The power, or the cause I allude to, is the frequent expansions and contractions of the currency. I do not pretend to point out a remedy, or to lay blame any where: I only speak of what I have seen and know to be its practical effects on the business and population of this place; and presume it is the same in all other manufacturing districts, where the anomaly is so often witnessed, of large stocks of goods, prices high –and the reverse, small stocks and prices low.

The welfare and prosperity of manufactoties, and all engaged in them, seem to me, more than anything else, to require a stable and settled currency; without it they will never get along for any length of time with peace and quietness; so fully am I aware of this, and of the difficulties of managing them, that I have often said, and now solemnly repeat, that if the largest cotton establishment in this village were offered to me as a gift, on the sole condition that I should carry it on for twenty years, I would not, under present circumstances, accept it; experience has abundantly proved that high tariffs, under the present monetary system, are of little, if any benefit to them. I have seen them sickly and profitless with the highest tariff; and healthy and profitable under the lowest reductions. The best tariff, and in fact the only way in which our manufacturers can hope to prosper for any length of time, must be through some wholesome legislation on the subject of currency; without this, experience will prove, that they will be continually subject to difficulties and perplexities, and in the end, unable to compete with the foreign manufacturer, especially on the continent of Europe, where they have been for some time past increasing and extending their establishments, and introducing all the modern improvements in machinery from this country and England; and I shall be much mistaken, if we do not find, before twenty years passes round, competitors infinitely more difficult to contend with than the English –cheap living, and as a consequence, cheap labor, will, in the end, be found the best and only tariff.

As an exemplification of some of these views, suppose the manufacturer to be doing a fair and prosperous business –his hands contented and satisfied; experience proves, that this state of things will last but a short time. An expansion of the currency takes place; goods rise; provisions, and all the necessaries of life rise; the workmen soon begin to feel the effect; their situation is daily growing worse; they find they cannot procure near so many comforts and necessaries for their weekly wages as they did before; and although trade seems prosperous every where, they are the sufferers; at last it arrives at that point at which they can stand it no longer; then comes a “strike” for higher wages; the mills all in confusion; the whole village in a state of turmoil; to the great injury of good order, morals, and the interests of all concerned; the employer, (although I have known frequent exceptions,) generally resists; the difficulty lasts some two or three weeks; he finally gives way; a compromise is made; the whole tariff of wages is altered, and the hands return to their work.

A further expansion of the currency takes place, and the same things are repeated. Next comes a contraction of the currency, and now the employer is the sufferer; goods, and the necessaries of life fall; he cannot afford to make his goods at the prices; he loses, sometimes to a very considerable extent, and at last finds it absolutely necessary to reduce the wages of his hands; he notifies them to that effect; a “turn-out” of the hands, to resist the reduction ensues; a repetition of the difficulties, turmoil and confusion; this time the hands give way, and come into the measures of the employer. A further contraction of the currency takes place, and this is also repeated, &c. &c.

This is a plain, unvarnished tale, and a fair and honest epitome of the history of the manufactures of this place, in connexion with this subject, from its commencement to the present day. These continual difficulties between the employer and employed, destroy all good feeling and affection between them; the employer, generally speaking, cares little for them or their welfare; and they have little regard for him or his interests; he contracts with them to do a certain amount of work; they do it to the letter of the agreement –not one jot more. On pay day, he pays them to the last cent, and here ends all communication between them. Instead of the good feeling that ought to exist, the attention on the part of employer to the welfare and happiness of his people, and their attention and regard to his interests, the very reverse is too often the case, and I have known many instances where the bitterest animosity existed.

There are always to be found in the factories many worthy, remarkably intelligent and well-informed workmen, as the committee have no doubt discovered. Men, from whom statesmen and philosophers could learn useful and practical lessons on these subjects; they generally understand the exciting causes of the difficulties they often labor under, much better than their employers; and in numerous instances, are possessed of far more good sense and intelligence; but, unfortunately, they are in humble life, and have no power to correct the evils they see and feel. These men are not generally known, understood or appreciated. If some of them had been consulted, and their views listened to, on the various subjects connected with manufactures, the tariff, their own interests, &c., instead of the fanciful, theoretical manufacturer’s, whose whole knowledge of the subject was derived from deceptious statistical tables, pamphlets, and statements collected from persons having other views and interests than the ostensible one of protecting the manufacturer, much valuable information could have been procured. They could have told, long since, that the “tariff” –the mere discussion of which, had nearly thrown the whole country into confusion– so far as it concerned their interests, was all a farce; and that the only manufactories protected or benefited by it, are the manufactories of bank notes.

 

Science of Currency

In every man’s notions of currency, there is more or less of truth, and probably in every woman’s also.  And it is very well that it is so, as otherwise neither man nor woman could go through with his or her daily business.

Go to your fish women on Market street wharf, and offer to her a one dollar note of the Berks County Bank.  “Sir,” she will tell you, “notes of that bank will not pass now.”  Display to her then the contents of your pocket book, and let her have her choice of Indiana, or Illinois, or Alabama, or Georgia paper.  “Sir,” she will say, “I know nothing about the notes of those distant banks.  Please to give me a city note.”  You offer to her a Moyamensing note, or, peradventure, a Penn Township.  “Sir,” she will tell you.  “those notes were very good a short time ago, but they are now below par.  Please to give me a note on one of the other city banks.”

Go then to your broker on Third street.  His knowledge of currency exceeds your fish woman’s.  He knows the price that Illinois, and Indiana, and Alabama, and Georgia notes bear in the market, and will give you current funds in exchange for them.

Next step into the warehouse of a merchant, not of a well read, reflecting, intelligent merchant, but one of that numerous class of traders whose mental vision is bounded by the four walls of their own counting houses.  He has to make a remittance to New York, and you will find that he has that knowledge of exchanges which will enable him to make the remittance at the least cost possible.

Then, enter one of our paper money banks, and converse with the cashier, and you will find that his knowledge of the rates of exchange, foreign and domestic, and of the easiest and cheapest way of making remittances, excels the merchant’s exactly in proportion to the amount of transactions of this kind that be has daily or weekly to perform.

You wonder, perhaps, to find people of so little general intelligence, so very knowing on this particular subject.  You ought not to wonder at it.  They could not carry on their business without it.  Bills of exchange are commodities, and it requires no more intellect to deal in them, than in cotton or in sugar.  Perhaps it requires less.

Enter into a closer conversation with these people, and you will probably find that though their notions of money as a mere circulating medium are as correct as may be, they have no notions whatever of money as a standard of value, and as a measure of value;  or, if they have any, they are as crude and as vague as possible.  Your fish woman will tell you, perhaps, that “gold and silver have no intrinsic value, inasmuch as they cannot be either eat or drunk.”  Your merchant will tell you, “that there is not gold and silver enough in the world to serve the purposes of money,” and your broker and your banker will unite in affirming this declaration.

You wonder, perhaps, that people who know so much about money in one of its functions, should be so very ignorant of it in other respects.  But you ought not to wonder at it.  Your grocer weighs out your coffee and your sugar to you with great accuracy: but does he know any thing of the deep philosophy that is connected with weights and measures ?  If you should tell him that any given mass of matter, whether of coffee or sugar, or gold or iron, sustains an alteration in weight, every time it is carried a certain distance above or below the level of the sea, he will probably listen to you with doubt, or, if he takes you at your word, he will thank his stars that so much science is not requisite for weighing out coffee and sugar.

It is so with the broker, the banker, and the mere merchant.  Their special concern with money is as a circulating medium, and not as a standard or measure of value.  And as success in business depends much less on acquaintance with scientific principles, than on an accurate knowledge of details, it is to the acquisition of this latter knowledge that they devote all their attention.  And so successful are they in acquiring this knowledge of details, that the ablest writers on money that ever lived, Sir Isaac Newton, John Locke, Adam Smith, or Jean Baptiste Say, would, if brought into competition with the least intelligent of our brokers and bankers, prove very unequal to them in the noble art of “turning a penny.”

The mischief of it is, that those people whose business compels them to acquire a knowledge of practical details, because they know something about money, suppose they know every thing.  They are ignorant of the fact that there is A SCIENCE OF CURRENCY, or a regular system of truths relating to money and its substitutes, and that this science, in order that it may be acquired, must be studied diligently as other sciences are.  With their knowledge of details, which in its kind is admirable, they connect some of the vaguest notions possible in regard to money in some of its most important functions, and every man who does not agree with them in opinion, is, in their view, a mere theorist.

We beg not to be misunderstood.  There are many merchants, many brokers, and many bankers, who have a competent knowledge of The Science of Currency.  But they have acquired a knowledge of this science, as they have acquired a knowledge of other sciences, by study.  They did not get it by intuition.  Neither did they get it by practical attention to the details of their business.  In bringing this science to its present state of perfection, many of the finest minds in the world have been employed, and the experience of many countries and many ages has been brought into requisition.  To see the whole extent of truths which have thus been brought together, and, what is of great importance, to see them in their proper connection, is impossible without a study of the writings in which they are to be found.

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