Hartley Withers

by Hartley Withers


Finance, in the sense in which it will be used in this book, means the machinery of money dealing. That is, the machinery by which money which you and I save is put together and lent out to people who want to borrow it. Finance becomes international when our money is lent to borrowers in other countries, or when people in England, who want to start an enterprise, get some or all of the money that they need, in order to do so, from lenders oversea.

Capital, then, is wealth invested in industry, finance is the machinery by which this process of investment is carried out, and international finance is the machinery by which the wealth of one country is invested in another.

So far we have only considered what happens to the money of those who save as long as it is left in the hands of their bankers, and we have seen that it is only likely to be employed internationally, if invested by bankers in bills of exchange which form a comparatively small part of their assets. It is true that bankers also invest money in securities, and that some of these are foreign, but here again the proportion invested abroad is so small that we may be reasonably sure that any money left by us in the hands of our bankers will be employed at home.

We have seen that finance becomes international when capital goes abroad, by being lent by investors in one country to borrowers in another, or by being invested in enterprises formed to carry on some kind of business abroad. We have next to consider why capital goes abroad and whether it is a good or a bad thing, for it to do so.

When once we have recognized how close is the connection between finance and trade, we have gone a long way towards seeing the greatness of the service that finance renders to mankind, whether it works at home or abroad.

No one who writes of the evils of international finance runs any risk of being "gravelled for lack of matter." The theme is one that has been copiously developed, in a variety of keys by all sorts and conditions of composers.

So far we have considered the working of International Finance chiefly from the point of view of its effects upon the prosperity and comfort of mankind as a whole and on this country, as the greatest trader, carrier, and financier of the world. We have seen that the benefit that it works is wrought chiefly through specialization, that is, through the production of the good things of the earth in the lands best fitted, by climate or otherwise, to grow and make them.

Apart from the political measures which may be found necessary for the regulation, after the war, of International Finance, it remains to consider what can be done to amend the evils from which it suffers, and likewise what, if anything, can be done to strengthen our financial weapon, and sharpen its edge to help us in the difficult fight that will follow the present war, however it may end.

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