Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/14

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
4
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

case of articles—like textiles, spirits, spices, teas, books, and similar products—where great values are comprised in small bulk. The investigations of Mr. Atkinson show that, had the actual quantity of merchandise moved by the railroads of the United States in 1880 been subjected to the average rate per ton per mile which was charged from 1866 to 1869, the difference would have amounted to at least $500,000,000 (£100,000,000), and perhaps 8800,000,000 (£160,000,000), more than the actual charge of 1880. Comparing 1865 with 1885, Mr. Atkinson further shows that, taking a given weight of goods to be moved from Chicago to New York, one thousand miles, by the New York Central Railroad, 58 per cent of the original value was absorbed in transportation and depreciation of the currency in the former year; while in 1885 only 20 per cent was so absorbed—the charge per ton per mile having fallen from 3.15 cents in 1865 to .68 of a cent in 1885.

The fall in price for the carriage of commodities by sea has also been as remarkable as the decline in the cost of carriage by land. Freight, on the average, between Calcutta and England had experienced a decline of about 50 per cent in 1885 as compared with 1875. In the case of India wheat transported to England via the Suez Canal, the decline in freights was from 7ls. 2d. per ton in October, 1881, to 27s. in October, 1885, or more than 63 per cent. Between 1873 and 1885 the tolls and pilotage on the Suez Canal were reduced to the extent of about 33 per cent.

Freights from New York to Liverpool declined, from 1880 to 1880, as follows (maximum and minimum): On grain, from 914d. to 1d. per bushel; on flour, from 25s. to 7s. 6d. per ton; on cheese, from 50s. to 15s. per ton; on cotton, from 38d, to 768d. per pound; and on bacon and lard, from 45s. to 7s. per ton. Subsequently, prices recovered somewhat, but by no means to the extent of the rates current in 1880 and preceding years.

It is not, however, to be concealed that numerous economists and statisticians of high repute—Mr. Sauerbeck and others—are nevertheless of the opinion that, allowing all that has been claimed for the influence on prices occasioned by reduction of cost through increased and cheapened production and distribution, the decline in recent years is too great to be "simply explained away" by these agencies. But these authorities have specified no commodities, the analysis of whose production and price-experiences in recent years furnish any sufficient foundation for such a general conclusion; and it is interesting to note how the experiences of the few, which at first thought would seem to indicate the sensible influence of "other" agencies, on analysis prove to the contrary. Thus, in the case of wool, Messrs. Helmuth, Swartze & Co., of London, the best recognized authorities on this commodity, in their annual circular for 1887, after admitting the great increase in the production of wool in the years from 1860 to