Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/323

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309
GOVERNMENTAL INTERFERENCE.

of foreign manufactured or partially manufactured goods into Great Britain has increased since 1870, at "a slightly more rapid rate" than the increase of its population, having been £1·97 per head in the period 1870-'74, and £2·35 per head in the period 1880-'84. The extent of the injury to British interests from these changes in the conditions of the world's trade, does not, however, appear to have been as great as might have been anticipated, or as is popularly supposed; and very curiously has manifested itself in a reduction of profits, rather than in any reduction of the volume of British trade; the value of British exports to the six protectionist countries of the world—the United States, France, Germany, Russia, Spain, and Italy—having been larger during the years 1880-'84 than in any quinquennial period of British history, with the exception of the period from 1870'74, when British trade is known to have been abnormally inflated. It is also not a little interesting to note that the countries of the world in which, according to the most recent and accepted statistics, the ratio of wealth and the ratio of foreign commerce to the population are the greatest, are Holland and Great Britain, the two states that have emancipated themselves in the greatest degree from all restrictions on the interchange of products with foreign nations—the customs revenue of the former amounting to about one per cent on her imports, and that of the latter to about five and a half per cent.[1] In India, also, where there are few artificial restrictions on the freedom of exchange, internal trade, manufactures, and foreign commerce have increased in an extraordinary degree within recent years, and the wages of skilled labor have also, at the same time, notably advanced.

An analysis of the comparative values of the export trade of the nations of Europe during the five years from 1880 to 1885—a period of intense struggle for the domination of the world's markets—affords the following interesting results: In cotton and woolen yarns and dry goods, England has strengthened her position; in iron and steel goods, her share of the world's trade has increased from 64·2 to 66·5 per cent; while in machinery her exports have been pushed up from 66·7 to 69·1 per cent. In glass and glass goods England's percentage remained constant, while that of France and Belgium declined. Germany increased her exports of glass and glassware, and also very largely of paper, and slightly of machinery, losing ground in respect to the exportation of iron and steel goods, in common with France and Austria.

  1. It is popularly believed that the per-capita wealth of the people of the United States, which the census of 1880 fixed at $860—but which, allowing for duplications, is probably not over $500—is greater than that of any other people. This, however, is not the fact; the ratio of wealth to each inhabitant in Great Britain being $1,245, and in Holland, $1,200. The wealth of Holland, moreover, doubled in the twenty years next prior to 1880, while the gain in population of the country during the same period was comparatively insignificant. In respect to commerce, the ratio to each inhabitant, in 1880, was $150 in Holland, as compared with $91 for Great Britain, and $32 for the United States.