By Our Industtial Correspondent The speeches of the Bank Chairmen have made less stir this year than they have usually done of late. Mr. McKenna, whose mild unorthodoxy first drew wide attention to these speeches, seems to have grown more sensitive to City opinion, and the other chairmen seem to have grown Tore sensitive to the opinion of the general public. At any rate they have all been, on the whole, cautious and non-committal on controversial topics.
The general public tends in any case to over-estimate the value of these speeches as a guide to economic conditions and prosperity or to economic policy.
Bank figures and bankers minds do certainly reflect certain aspects of the qndustrial situation but from a definite and limited standpoint. roughly speaking that of the money-lender. And that standpoint by no means always coincides with that of the ordinary citizens.
The Pawnbroker's Ideal
Take, for example, the pawnbroker's ideas of good times and bad times. Good times for him are when plenty of articles are being pledged every week and being redeemed before the week-end.
The ideal state of affairs for him is one which his clients have enough coming in regularly to repay his loans but at the same time are sufficiently behindhand and without resources of their own to be cornpelted to borrow every Monday. And the banker's business is closely akin to the pawnbroker's.
Their special standpoint comes out clearly in their unanimous cry for the restoration of foreign lending.
The "cheap money " for which Mr. Neville Chamberlain so absurdly takes credit is in the first instance the consequence of the cutting off of this lending and the accumulation of unlendable money at home, with the result that they have to be invested at low rates of interests in Government securities. Money-lenders naturally prefer short loans and high rates.
With the same end in view they cornplain, again unanimously, that British industrialists in this time of recovery are paying insufficient attention to the export market. They warn them to prepare for a time when the home markets will be fully supplied. To the plain citizen it might seem that if ever that time comes we ought all to be thankfully content. But the big money-lenders value foreign trade, not for goods it exchanges, but for the iloans for which it calls. In the old days it was their regular practice to create foreign markets by loans to possible customers. And even when that is unnecessary or impossible, every time goods are exported or imported, commercial bills are brought into existence which are brought to the financial houses to discount, in other words, to lend money on.
In general. the more complex and longdrawn out arc the operations of commerce, and the more stages intervene between the raw material in the hands of the cultivator and the finished product in the hands of the consumer, the more opportunities there are for "carrying over by loans and the more nearly conditions approximate to the bankers' and financiers' paradise, not from any special malice on the part of bankers and financiers but because these conditions are good for their particular trade.
Jr is quite true that some of the conditions that please hankers are signs of real economic .well-being in the community as a whole. The point is that there is no necessary connection between the two points of view and the laments over the dearth of foreign lending, foreign trade. commercial bills and so forth with which this year's speeches are plentifully besprinkled should he read with this in mind. The relation of the money-lender's opinion to the point of view of the ordinary citizen must he judged on the merits of each individual case.
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Church Lost-PropertyOffice St. Mary's church, Lowe House, St. Helens, is probably unique in this country in possessing a lost property office. Articles left by parishioners are displayed in a special showcase and may be redeemed on payment of one penny towards the church deht fund.