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rage, be such that money will exchange for its own cost in all other goods: and, precisely because the quantity cannot be prevented from affecting the value, the quantity itself will (by a sort of self-acting machinery) be kept at the amount consistent with that standard of prices—at the amount necessary for performing, at those prices, all the business required of it.
"The quantity wanted will depend partly on the cost of producing gold, and partly on the rapidity of its circulation. The rapidity of circulation being given, it would depend on the cost of production: and the cost of production being given, the quantity of money would depend on the rapidity of its circulation."* After what has been already said, I hope that neither of these propositions stands in need of any further illustration.
Money, then, like commodities in general, having a value dependent on, and proportional to, its cost of production; the theory of money is, by the admission of this principle, stript of a great part of the mystery which apparently surrounded it. We must not forget, however, that this doctrine only applies to the places in which the precious metals are actually produced; and
that we have yet to enquire whether the law of the dependence of value on cost of production applies to the exchange of things produced at distant places. But however this may be, our propositions with respect to value will require no other alteration, where money is an imported commodity, than that of substituting for the cost of its production, the cost of obtaining it in the country. Every foreign commodity is bought by giving for it some domestic production; and the labour and capital which a foreign commodity costs to us, is the labour and capital expended in producing the quantity of our own goods which we give in exchange for it. What this quantity depends upon,— what determines the proportions of interchange between the productions of one country and those of another,—is indeed a question of somewhat greater complexity than those we have hitherto considered. But this at least is indisputable, that within the country itself the value of imported commodities is determined by the value, and conse quently by the cost of production, ot the equivalent given for them; and money, where it is an imported commodity, is- subject to the same law.
Or A DOUBLE STANDARD, AND SUBSIDIARY COINS.
§ 1. TftouGH the qualities necessary to fit any commodity for being used as money are rarely united in any considerable perfection, there are two commodities which possess them in an eminent, andnearly an equaldegree; the two precious metals, as they are called; gold and silver. Some nations have accordingly attempted to compose their circulating medium of theso two metals indiscriminately.
* From some printed, but not published, Lectures of Mr. Senior: in which the great differences in the business done by money, as well as in the rapidity of its circulation, in different states of society and civilization, Are interestingly illustrated.
There is an obvious convenience in making use of the more costly metal for larger payments, and the cheaper one for smaller; and the only question relates to the mode in which this can best be done. The mode most frequently adopted has been to establish between the two metals a fixed proportion; to decide, for example, that a gold coin called a sovereign should be equivalent to twenty of the silver coins called shillings: bofli the one and the other being called, in the ordinary money of account of the country, by the same denomination, a pound: and it being left free to every one who has a pound to pay, either to pay it in the one metal or in the other.
At the time when the valuation of the two metals relatively to each other, say twenty shillings to the sovereign, or twenty-one shillings to the guinea, was first made, the proportion probably corresponded, as nearly as it could be made to do, with the ordinary relative values of the two metals, grounded on their cost of production; and if those natural or cost values always continued to bear the same ratio to one another, the arrangement would be unobjectionable. This, however, is far from being the fact. Gold and silver, though the least variable in value of all commodities, are not invariable, and do not always vary simultaneously. Silver, for example, was lowered in permanent value more than gold, by the discovery of the American mines; and those small variations of value which take place occasionally, do not affect both metals alike. Suppose such a variation to take place: the value of the two metals relatively to one another no longer agreeing with their rated proportion, one or other of them will now be rated below its bullion value, and there will be a profit to be made by melting it.
Suppose, for example, that gold rises in value relatively to silver, so that the quantity of gold in a sovereign is now worth more than the quantity of silver in twenty shillings. Two consequences will ensue. No debtor will any longer find it his interest to pay in gold. He will always pay in silver, because twenty shillings are a legal tender for a debt of one pound, and he can procure silver convertible into twenty shillings, for less
fold than that contained in a sovereign, 'he other consequence will be, that unless a sovereign can be sold for more than twenty shillings, all the sovereigns will be melted, since as bullion they will purchase a greater number of shillings than they exchange for as coin. The converse of all this would happen if silver, instead of gold, were the metal which had risen in comparative value. A sovereign would not now be worth so much as twenty shillings, and whoever nad a pound to pay would prefer paying
it by a sovereign ; while the silver coins would be collected for the purpose of being melted, and sold as bullion for gold at their real value, that is, above <he legal valuation. The money of the community, therefore, would never really consist of both metals, but of the one only which, at the particular time, best suited the interest of debtors; and the standard of the currency would be constantly liable to change from the one metal to the other, at a loss, on each change, of the expense of coinage on the metal which fell out of use.
It appears, therefore, that the value of money is liable to more frequent fluctuations when both metals are a legal tender at a fixed valuation, than when the exclusive standard of the currency is either gold or silver. Instead of being only affected by variations in the cost of production of one metal, it is subject to derangement from those of two. The particular kind of variation to which a currency is rendered more liable by having two legal standards, is a fall of value, or what is commonly called a depreciation ; since practically that one of the two metals will always be the standard, of which the real has fallen below the rated value. If the tendency of the metals be to rise in value, all payments will be made in the one which has risen least; and if to fall, then in that which has fallen most.
§ 2. The plan of a double standard is still occasionally brought forward by here and there a writer or orator as a great improvement in currency. It is probable that, with most of its adherents, its chief merit is its tendency to a sort of depreciation, there being at all times abundance of supporters for any mode, either open or covert, of lowering the standard. Some, however, are influenced by an exaggerated estimate of an advantage which to a certain extent is real, that of being able to have recourse, for replenishing the circulation, to the united stock of gold and silver in the commercial world, instead of being confined to one of them, which, from accidental absorption, may not be obtainable with sufficient rapidity. The advantage without the disadvantages of a double standard, seems to be best obtained by those nations with whom only one of the two metals is a legal tender, but the other also is coined, and allowed to pass for whatever value the market assigns to it.
When this plan is adopted, it is naturally the more costly metal which is left to be bought and sold as an article of commerce. But nations which, like England, adopt the more costly of the two as their standard, resort to a different expedient for retaining them both in circulation, namely, to make silver a legal tender, but only for small payments. In England no one can be compelled to receive silver in payment for a larger amount than forty shillings. With this regulation there is necessarily combined another, namely, that silver coin should be rated, in compa
rison with gold, somewhat above its intrinsic value; that there should not be,_in twenty shillings, as much silver as is worth a sovereign: for if there were, a very slight turn of the market in its favour would make it worth more than a sovereign, and it would be profitable to melt the silver coin. The over-valuation of the silver coin creates an inducement to buy silver and send it to the Mint to be coined, since it is given back at a higher value than properly belongs to it: this, however, has been guarded against, by limiting the quantity of the silver coinage, which is not left, like that of gold, to the discretion of individuals, but is determined by the government, and restricted to the amount supposed to be required for small payments. The only precaution necessary is, not to put so high a valuation upon the silver, as to hold out a strong temptation to private coining.
OP CREDIT, A3 A SUBSTITUTE FOB MONET.
§ 1. The functions of credit have been a subject of as much misunderstanding and as much confusion of ideas as any single topic in Political Economy. This is not owing to any peculiar difficulty in the theory of the subject, but to the complex nature of some of the mercantile phenomena arising from the forms in which credit clothes itself; by which attention is diverted from the properties of credit in general, to the peculiarities of its particular forms.
As a specimen of the confused notions entertained respecting the nature of credit, we may advert to the exaggerated language so often used respecting its national importance. Credit has a great, but not, as many people seem to cuppo.se, a magical power; it cannot make something out of nothing. How often is an extension of credit talked of as equivalent to a creation of capital,
or as if credit actually were capital. It seems strange that there should be any need to point out, that credit being only permission to use the capital of another person, the means of production cannot be increased by it, but only transferred. If the borrower's means of production and of employing labour are increased by the credit given him, the lender's are as much diminished. The same sum cannot be used as capital both by the owner and also by tho person to whom it is lent: it cannot supply its entire value in wages, tools, and materials, to two sets of labourers at once. It is true that the capital which A has borrowed from B, and makes use of in his business, still forms part of the wealth of B for other purposes: he can enter into arrangements in reliance on it, and can borrow, when needful, an equivalent sum on the security of it: so that to a superficial eye it might seem as if both B and A had the use of it at once. But the smallest consideration will show that when B has parted with his capital to A, the use of it as capital rests with A alone, and that B has no other service from it than in so far as his ultimate claim upon it serves him to obtain the use of another capital from a third person G. All capital (not his own) of which any person has really the use, is, and must be, so much subtracted from the capital of some one else.*
§ 2. But though credit is but a transfer of capital from hand to hand, it is generally, and naturally, a transfer to hands more competent to employ the capital efficiently in production. If there were no such thing as credit, or if, from general insecurity and want of confidence, it were scantily practised, many persons who possess more
* To make the proposition in the text strictly true, a correction, though a very slight one, requires to be made. The circulating medium existing in a country at a given time, is partly employed in purchases for productive, and partly for unproductive consumption. According as a larger proportion of it is employed in the one way or in the other, the real capital of the country is greater or less. If, then, an addition were made to the circulating medium in the hands of unproductive consumers exclusively, a larger portion of the existing stock of commodities would be bought for unproductive consumption, and a smaller for productive, which state of things, while it lasted, would be equivalent to a diminution of capital. And on the contrary, if the addition made be to the portion of the circulating medium which is in the hands of producers, and destined for their business, a greater portion of the commodities in the country will for the present be employed as capital, and a less portion unproductively. Now, an effect of this latter character naturally attends some extensions of credit, especially when taking place in the form of bank notes, or other instruments of exchange. The additional bank notes are, in ordinary course, first issued to producers or dealers, to be employed as capital; and though the stock of commodities in the country is no greater than before, yet as a greater share of that stock now comes by purchase into the hands of producers and dealers, to that extent what would have been unproductively consumed is applied to production, and there is a real increase of capital. The effect ceases, and a counter-process takes place, when the additional credit is stopped and the notes called in.
or less of capital, but who from their occupations, or for want of the necessary skill and knowledge, cannot personally superintend its employment, would derive no benefit from it: their funds would either lie idle, or would be, perhaps, wasted and annihilated in unskilful attempts to make them yield a profit. All this capital is now lent at interest, and made available for production. Capital thus circumstanced forms a large portion of the productive resources of any commercial country; and is naturally attracted to those producers or traders wjio, being in the greatest business, have the means of employing it to most advantage; because such are both the most desirous to obtain it, and able to give the best security. Although, therefore, the productive funds of the country are not increased by credit, they are called into a more complete state of productive activity. As the confidence on which credit is grounded extends itself, means are developed by which even the smallest portions of capital, the sums which each person keeps by him to meet contingencies, are made available for productive uses. The principal instruments for this purpose are banks of deposit. Where these do not exist, a prudent person must keep a sufficient sum unemployed in his own possession, to meet every demand which he haa even a slight reason for thinking himself liable to. When the practice, however, has grown up of keeping this reserve not in his own custody but with a banker, many small sums, previously lying idle, become aggregated in the banker's hands; and the banker, being taught by experience what proportion of the amount is likely to bo wanted in a given time, and knowing that if one depositor happens to require more than the average, another will require less, is able to lend the remainder, that is, the far greater part, to producers and dealers: thereby adding the amount, not indeed to the capital in existence, but to that in employment, and making a corresponding addition to the aggregate production of the community. While credit is thus indispensable for rendering the whole capital of the country productive, it is also a means by which the industrial talent of the country is turned to better account for purposes of production. Many a person who has either no capital of his own, or very little, but who has qualifications for business which are known and appreciated by some possessors of capital, is enabled to obtain either advances in money, or more frequently goods on credit, by which his industrial capacities are made instrumental to the increase of the public wealth; and this benefit will be reaped far more largely, whenever, through better laws and better education, the community shall have made such progress in integrity, that personal character can be accepted as a sufficient guarantee not only against dishonestly appropriating, but against dishonestly risking, what belongs to another.
Such are, in the most general point of view, the uses of credit to the productive resources of the world. But these considerations only apply to the credit given to the industrious classes—to producers and dealers'. Credit given by dealers to unproductive consumers is never an addition, but always a detriment, to the sources of public wealth. It makes over in temporary use, not the capital of the unproductive classes to the productive, but that of the productive to the unproductive. If A, a dealer, supplies goods to B, a landowner or annuitant, to be paid for at the end of five years, as much of the capital of A as is equal to the value of these goods, remains for five years unproductive. During such a period, if payment had been made at once, the sum might have been several times expended and replaced, and goods to the amount might have been several times produced, consumed, and reproduced: consequently B's withholding 1001. for five years, even if he pays at last, has cost to the labouring classes of the community during that period an absolute loss of probably several times that amount. A, individually, is compensated, by putting a higher price upon his goods, which is nltiuiately paid by B: hut there is no
compensation made to the labouring classes, the chief sufferers by every diversion of capital, whether permanently or temporarily, to unproductive uses. The country has had 1001. less of capital during those five years, B having taken that amount from A's capital, and spent it unproductively, in anticipation of his own means, and having only after five years set apart a sum from his income and converted it into capital for the purpose of indemnifying A.
§ 3. Thus far of the general function of Credit in production. It is not a productive power in itself, though, without it, the productive powers already existing could not be brought into complete employment. But a more intricate portion of the theory of Credit is its influence on prices; the chief cause of most of the mercantile
Phenomena which perplex observers, n a state of commerce in which much credit is habitually given, general prices at any moment depend much more upon the state of credit than upon the quantity of money. For credit, though it is not productive power, is purchasing power; and a person who, having credit, avails himself of it in the purchase of goods, creates just as much demand for the goods, and tends quite as much to raise their price, as if he made an equal amount of pur. chases with ready money.
The credit which we are now called upon to consider, as a distinct purchasing power, independent of money, is of course not credit in its simplest form, that of money lent by one person to another, and paid directly into his hands; for when the borrower expends this in purchases, he makes tho purchases with money, not credit, and exerts no purchasing power over and above that conferred by the money. The forms of credit which create purchasing power, are those in which no money passes at the time, and very often none passes at all, the transactions being included with a mass of other transactions in an account, and nothing paid but a balance. This takes place jn a variety of ways,