On account of the huge fixed investment of foreign money in the United States, on account of Europe's continuous speculative interest in our markets, and the activity of the "arbitrageurs" in both bonds and shares, dealings in securities between ourselves and the Old World are always on a very great scale. Not infrequently, indeed, Europe's position on American securities is an influence of dominating importance.

From the maturities, refunding operations, and interest remittances alone, growing out of the permanent investment of foreign money in our securities, there results a very great amount of international security and exchange business. Whether Europe's investment here amounts to three billions or four billions or five billions, it is impossible to say; the fact remains that it is so large that every year a very great amount of foreign-held bonds come due and have to be paid off or refunded, and, further, that the remitting abroad of coupon and dividend money each year calls for upward of $150,000,000.

This matter of maturing investments, alone, calls for continuous international security trading and on a large scale. Each year there comes due in this country an amount of railroad and other bonds running well up into the hundreds of millions, of which a large proportion are held on the other side. Some of these maturities are paid off in cash—‌more often, refunding bonds are offered in exchange; seldom, indeed, are the maturing investments allowed to remain unreplaced. European investors, especially, have consistently done well with money placed in this country, and the running off to maturity of a foreign-held American bond is nearly sure to be followed up by replacement with some other American security.

Bond houses doing an international business are therefore keenly watchful of the maturity of issues largely held abroad, and are ever ready with offers of new and attractive investments. Knowledge of the location of American investments in Europe is thus a business asset of the greatest importance, and records are carefully kept. The fact that a dealer here knows that some bank in London has a wealthy client who holds a big block of certain bonds about to mature, may very possibly mean that the house here may be able to make a very profitable trade. Information of this character is carefully gathered wherever possible and as carefully guarded. The longer a house has been in business, naturally, and the closer its financial relationship with investment interests abroad, the more of this sort of information it is bound to possess.

Foreign exchange growing out of these renewals and refundings is on a very large scale. Sometimes the placing of a new issue abroad means such immediate drawing of drafts on foreign buyers of the securities as to depress the exchange market sharply. Sometimes, as in the case of new issues of railroad stock, where payments are usually made in instalments covering a year or more, the drawing of exchange is distributed in such a way that its influence, if felt at all, is felt merely as an underlying element of weakness.

Of a somewhat different character are the foreign exchange transactions originating from what might be called Europe's "floating" investment in American securities and from the out-and-out speculations carried on in this market by the foreigners.

There is never a time, probably, when the floating foreign investment in American stocks and bonds does not run up with the hundreds of millions of dollars. "Speculation," such operations would probably be called by many people, but whether speculation or not, a form of activity which is continually giving rise to big dealings in foreign exchange. For this "floating" investment is very largely for account of bankers whose international connections and credit make it possible for them to carry stocks and bonds through the agency of the exchange market, and without having to put up any actual money. The ingenious method by which this is accomplished is about as follows:

A banker here, for instance, decides that a certain low-priced bond is cheap and that if purchased it will show a substantial profit within six months or a year. Not wanting to buy the bonds and borrow on them here, he invites his foreign correspondent into the deal on joint account, arranging to raise the money with which to buy the bonds by drawing a ninety-day sight draft on the foreign correspondent. This he does, drawing, say, a £50,000 draft at ninety days' sight, and selling it in the exchange market at, let us say, $4.83.

The $241,500 received from the sale of the draft, the American banker uses to buy the bonds. Ninety days later the draft will come due in London, and have to be covered (or renewed) from this side, but in the meantime, a profitable chance to sell the bonds may present itself. If not, the draft can be "renewed" at the end of the ninety days, and again and again if necessary, until the bankers are willing to close out the bonds.

This operation of "renewing" long drafts drawn for the purpose of carrying securities is one of the most interesting phases of foreign exchange business in connection with international security dealings. The draft has been drawn, say, for £50,000. The end of the ninety-day period comes, the draft is due, is presented, and has to be paid. But the bankers do not choose to sell out the bonds and close the deal. They arrange instead to renew the maturing draft. This they do by paying the original ninety-day draft out of the proceeds of a new ninety-day draft.

The original draft for £50,000 comes due let us say on October 19, so that about October 10th the New York banker will be under the necessity of sending over to London a demand draft for £50,000. The rate realizable for ninety-day drafts being always considerably lower than the price of demand drafts, it follows that if the banker proposes to buy £50,000 of demand out of the proceeds of a fresh ninety-day bill he will have to draw his fresh bill for more than £50,000. If the demand rate happened to be 4.86, the £50,000 he needs would cost him $243,000. In order to raise $243,000 by selling a ninety-days' sight draft (say at 4.83) he would have to make the new draft for £50,310. The extra £310 would constitute the interest. Each time he renewed the draft he would have to draw for more and more.

Requiring the tying up of no actual capital, this form of financing "floating investments" has become exceedingly popular and is carried on on a large scale. Where the relationships between the foreign and the American houses are close, there is almost no limit to the number of times an original bill may be renewed. As for the constantly increasing amount of the drafts which have to be drawn, that is taken care of by the interest on the investment carried.

Not all the floating investment in American securities is carried in this way, but in whatever form the financing is done it is bound to involve foreign exchange operations and to necessitate the drawing of drafts by banking houses in this country on their correspondents abroad. Quiet conditions may result in long periods when investments of this kind are left undisturbed, but even then, the constant remitting and renewing of drafts originates a good deal of exchange market activity. And with considerable frequency occur periods when the floating investment is strongly affected by immediate conditions, and when purchases, sales, and transfers of securities stir the exchange market to a high pitch of excitement.

Speculative operations in this market for foreign account, are, however, the cause of the greatest amount of exchange market activity caused by international security transactions. There are times, as has been said, when individuals and banking houses abroad speculate heavily and continuously in this market, at which times the exchange market is strongly affected by the buying and selling of exchange which necessarily takes place. Such periods may last for weeks or even months, and during all of the time, London's immediate attitude toward the market is apt to be the controlling influence on the movement of exchange rates.

Concerning arbitraging in stocks, operations of this kind will be found to divide themselves readily into two classes—‌trades which are closed off at both ends at once, and trades which are allowed to run over night or even for a day or two. The former is a class of business out of which a dozen or twenty well-equipped houses in New York are making a great deal of money. With an expert "at the rail" on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, and continuous quotations as to prices on the various stock exchanges in Europe coming in, these houses are in a position to take advantage of the slightest disparity in prices. The chance to buy a hundred shares of some stock, in London, for instance, and to sell it out at the same time in New York, at one-eighth or one-quarter more, is what the arbitrageurs are constantly on the lookout for. With the proper facilities, an expert, in the course of the hour during which the London and New York Stock Exchanges are simultaneously in session, is often able to put through a number of profitable trades.

Such operations are possible, primarily, because of the fact that the same influences affect different markets in different ways. A piece of news which might cause a little selling of some stock in London, for instance, might have exactly the opposite effect in New York. With the wires continually hot between the two markets and a number of experts on the watch for the chance to make a fraction, quotations here and abroad can hardly get very far apart, at least in the active issues, but occasionally, it does happen that the arbitrageur is able to take advantage of a substantial difference. Always without risk, the bid in one market being in hand before the stock is bought in the other market.

But not so in the case of the other kind of arbitrage, where stocks bought in one market are carried over night for the sake of selling them out in some other market the next morning. There a decided risk is taken, the success of the operation depending absolutely upon the judgment of the operator. Under the stimulus of some favorable development, for instance, which becomes known here only after the Stock Exchanges abroad are closed for the day, the New York market closes buoyant. The chances are that the receipt of the news abroad over night will make the London market open up strong in the morning. To buy stock right at the closing of the market here for the purpose of selling it out next morning in London at the opening is an operation not without risk, but one which is likely to make money. A lower opening abroad would, of course, spoil the whole plan, and force a loss, but just there comes in the ability and judgment of the man who is handling the business. His judgment need by no means be infallible for the house to make a great deal of money.

Concerning arbitraging in bonds, practically everything depends not only on the judgment and skill, but on the facilities and connections of the man in charge. In the great "open" market in New York and in the great "open" market in London, American bonds are being continually bid for and offered in a way which gives an expert in touch with both markets a chance to buy here and sell there, or vice versa, at a profit. Such men are employed by bond houses with international connections, and spend their time doing practically nothing else but keeping in close touch with open market bids and offers for stocks and bonds and trying to buy in one market and sell in another. Such trades are frequently put through on a very profitable basis, profits of a clear point or more being not at all uncommon.

As for the degree of risk to be taken in business of this kind, that is entirely at the discretion of the arbitrageur. Where a firm bid of ninety-nine, good for the day, for instance, is given, there is no risk in cabling a bid of ninety-eight to London, but where the bid is not firm at all, or where it is only firm for five minutes, or in many other cases, the man who cables his own bid of ninety-eight is taking a certain amount of risk. Often enough he gets the bonds in London at ninety-eight, only to find that the ninety-nine bid in New York has been withdrawn.

Knowledge of what risks to take and of what risks to leave alone constitutes expertness in this line of business. Seldom can the transaction be absolutely closed at both ends and any substantial profit be made. Most of the time the correctness of the bond expert's judgment as to how he can sell somewhere else what he has bought, is what determines the amount of money he will make or lose.