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finance

Underlying the whole business of foreign exchange is the way in which obligations between creditors in one country and debtors in another have come to be settled—‌by having the creditor draw a draft directly upon the debtor or upon some bank designated by him. A merchant in New York has sold a bill of goods to a merchant in London, having thus become his creditor, say, for $5,000. To get his money, the merchant in New York will, in the great majority of cases, draw a sterling draft upon the debtor in London for a little over £1,000.

Turning now to consideration of the various sources from which springs the demand for foreign exchange, it appears that they can be divided about as follows:

1. The need for exchange with which to pay for imports of merchandise.

2. The need for exchange with which to pay for securities (American or foreign) purchased by us in Europe.

Granted that the obligations to each other of any two given countries foot up to the same amount, it is evident that the rate of exchange will remain exactly at the gold par—‌that in New York, for instance, the price of the sovereign will be simply the mint value of the gold contained in the sovereign.

Before taking up the question of the activities of the foreign exchange department and the question of how bankers make money dealing in exchange, it may be well to fix in mind clearly what the various forms of foreign exchange are. Following is a description of the most important classes of bills bought and sold in the New York market:

1. Commercial Long Bills

The foreign exchange market is in every sense "open"—‌anyone with bills to buy or sell and whose credit is all right can enter it and do business on a par with anyone else. There is no place where the trading is done, no membership, license or anything of the kind.

Complete description of the various forms of activity of the foreign exchange department of an important firm would fill a large volume, but there are certain stock operations in foreign exchange which are the basis of most of the transactions carried out and the understanding of which ought to go a long way toward making clear what the nature of the foreign exchange department's business really is.

1. Selling "Demand" Against "Demand"

by Hartley Withers

1916

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.

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