Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 33.djvu/27

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17
THE ECONOMIC OUTLOOK.

Germany,[1] and Portugal. In the latter country, the owners and cultivators of the soil seem to be in a remarkably unfortunate condition. The Portuguese farmer, despite heavy protective duties, finds himself unable to successfully contend with the increased import of cereals, mainly from the United States. The olive-oil industry, formerly flourishing, is so no longer, through the alleged extensive use of American cotton-seed oil as a substitute; while the demand for Portuguese wines, which for a time was increased by the bad vintages of France, is being impaired, and possibly threatened with destruction, by the continually increasing supply in the French markets of cheaper and more suitable wines for mixing purposes from California, the Cape of Good Hope, and Australia. In addition, the copper-mines of Portugal have suffered severely in recent years from the cheaper supplies of American copper. In the Canary Islands, where the soil is most cheap and fertile, and the vegetation of both the tropic and temperate zones flourishes in great luxuriance, the land question has also become of as much importance and embarrassment as in less favored countries. The former great remunerative industry of these islands was wine, "canary"; but this, by the impairment of the vines, has become of little account. These islands also formerly furnished the world with a large supply of cochineal, for the production of which they have special advantages; but since, through the discovery and use of aniline dyes, cochineal, which was once worth $1.75 (7s.), will now command but 12 cents (sixpence), this industry has become depressed. Curiously, also, a comparatively extensive export of potatoes from these islands to the Spanish West Indies is diminishing through a competitive exportation of the same vegetable from the United States. So that there seems to be nothing left for the land proprietors and cultivators in this locality to do, except to resort to the method, so much in favor at the present time, of taxing each other for their mutual benefit! Over large portions of the West India Islands, great quantities of excellent land, advantageously situated as regards facility of communication with other countries, under exceptionally healthy climatic conditions, and much of which has been formerly under high cultivation, has been absolutely abandoned, or is in the rapid

  1. One of the largest landholders of Austrian Silesia thus recently expressed himself: "A few years ago my estates admitted of the profitable cultivation of wheat; but the price of wheat, through the competitive supplies of the United States, and in spite of high protective duties at home, has declined to such an extent that the cultivation is no longer profitable. The same is true in respect to the domestic (Austrian) growing of cattle. Latterly, the encouragement of the beet-root sugar production, by the granting of bounties by the state on its exportation, has given an opportunity for labor and proved remunerative; but if the state should abandon the bounty system, which is not improbable, my land, as a source of income, seems likely to become valueless."