HOW MONEY IS MADE IN FOREIGN EXCHANGE. THE OPERATIONS OF THE FOREIGN DEPARTMENT

If the same loan had been made on the other basis, the New York Bank would have turned over to Smith & Jones not a sterling bill for £100,000, but the dollar proceeds of such a bill, say a check for $484,000. At the end of ninety days Smith & Jones would have had to pay back $484,000, plus ninety days' interest at six per cent, $7,260, all of which cash, less commission, the New York Bank would have invested in a demand bill of exchange and sent over to the London Bank, Ltd. Whatever more than the £100,000 needed to pay off the maturing nineties such a demand draft amounted to, would be the London Bank, Ltd.'s, profit.

From all of which it is plainly to be seen that when the London bankers are willing to lend money here and figure that the exchange market is on the down track, they will insist upon doing their lending on the "currency loan" basis—‌taking the risk of exchange themselves. Conversely, when loaning operations seem profitable but rates seem to be on the upturn, lenders will do their best to put their money out in the form of "sterling loans." Bankers are not always right in their views, by any means, but as a general principle it can be said that when big amounts of foreign money offered in this market are all offered on the "sterling loan" basis, a rising exchange market is to be expected.

As to the collateral on these foreign loans, it is evident that there is as much chance for different ways of looking at different stocks as there is in regular domestic loaning operations. Not only does the standing of the borrower here make a difference, but there are certain securities which certain banks abroad favor, and others, perhaps just as good, with which they will have nothing to do.

Excepting the case of special negotiation, however, it may be said that the collateral put up the case of foreign loans in this market is of a very high order. Three years ago this could hardly have been said, but one of the many beneficial effects of the panic was to greatly raise the standard of the collateral required by foreign lenders in this market. It used formerly to be more a case of the standing of the borrower. Nowadays the collateral is usually deposited here in care of a banker or trust company.

From what has been said about the mechanism of making these foreign loans, it is evident that no transfer of cash actually takes place, and that what really happens is that the foreign banking institution lends out its credit instead of its cash. For in no case is the lender required to put up any money. The drafts drawn upon him are at ninety days' sight, and all he has to do is to write the word "accepted," with his signature, across their face. Later they will be presented for actual payment, but by that time the "cover" will have reached London from the banker in America who drew the "nineties," and the maturing bills will be paid out of that. The foreign lender, in other words, is at no stage out of any actual capital, although it is true, of course, that he has obligated himself to pay the drafts on maturity, by "accepting" them.

Where, then, is the limit of what the foreign bankers can lend in the New York market? On one consideration only does that depend—‌the amount of accepted long bills which the London discount market will stand. For all the ninety days' sight bills drawn in the course of these transfers of credit must eventually be discounted in the London discount market, and when the London discount market refuses to absorb bills of this kind a material check is naturally administered to their creation.

Too great drawings of loan-bills, as the long bills drawn to make foreign loans are called, are quickly reflected in a squeamish London discount market. It needs only the refusal of the Bank of England to re-discount the paper of a few London banks suspected of having "accepted" too great a quantity of American loan-bills, to make it impossible to go on loaning profitably in the New York market. In order to make loans, long bills have to be drawn and sold to somebody, and if the discount market in London will take no more American paper, buyers for freshly-created American paper will be hard to find.

To get back to the part foreign loaning operations play in the foreign exchange market here, it is plain that as no actual money is put up, the business is attractive and profitable to the bank having the requisite facilities and the right foreign connection. It means the putting of the bank's name on a good deal of paper, it is true, but only on the deposit of entirely satisfactory collateral and only in connection with the assuming of the same obligation by a foreign institution of high standing. There are few instances where loss in transacting this form of business has been sustained, while the profits derived from it are very large.