By Hon. DAVID A. WELLS, LL.D., D.C.L.
IN the preceding paper of this series (No. IV), evidence was submitted to the effect that the remarkable decline in prices which has occurred during the last ten or fifteen years—or since 1873—in the case of the various commodities which constitute the great bulk of the trade, commerce, and consumption of the world, has been so largely due to conditions affecting their supply and demand that, if any or all other causes whatever have contributed to such a result, the influence exerted has not been appreciable; and, further, that if the prices of all other commodities, not included in such analysis, had confessedly been influenced by a scarcity of gold, the claims preferred by the advocates of the latter theory could not be fairly entitled to any more favorable verdict than that of "not proven." But have commodities, other than those whose production and price-experience have been submitted—more especially such commodities as have not in recent years experienced any marked change in their conditions of supply and demand—exhibited in their recent price-movements any evidence of having been subjected to any influences attributable to the scarcity of gold? The answer is, that not only can no results capable of any such generalization be affirmed, but no one commodity can even be named, in respect to which there is conclusive evidence that its price has been affected in recent years by influences directly or mainly attributable to any scarcity of gold for the purpose of effecting exchanges.
In the first place, all that large class of products or services, which are exclusively or largely the result of handicrafts; which are not capable of rapid multiplication, or of increased economy in production, and which can not be made the subject of international competition,