Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 33.djvu/43

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33
THE ECONOMIC OUTLOOK.

silver by such vast numbers would not only rapidly absorb any existing surplus, but possibly augment demand in excess of any current supply.[1] The true economic policy of a country like the United States, which is a large producer and seller of silver, would therefore seem to be, to seek to facilitate such a result, by removing all obstacles in the way of commerce between itself and silver-using countries, in order that, through increased traffic and consequent prosperity, the demand for silver on the part of the latter might be promoted.

The great reduction in the cost of transportation of commodities has been one of the most striking features of recent economic history. Produce is now carried from Australia to England, a distance of eleven thousand miles, in less time and at less cost than was required a hundred years ago to convey goods from one extremity of the British Islands to the other. The average cost of transporting each ton of freight one mile on the Pennsylvania Railroad during the year 1887 was 426/1000 of a cent. At first thought it would seem as if improvement in this sphere of human effort had certainly found a limit; but there are reasons for believing that even greater reductions are possible. Apart from improvements in machinery, and greater economies in operating, very few of the great lines of transportation, especially the railways, have as yet sufficient business to continuously exhaust their carrying capacity; but, when this is effected, and the present large class of fixed expenditures is apportioned to a larger business, lower rates for freight, from this cause alone, will be permissible; all of which, however, is simply equivalent to reaffirming the old trade maxim that it costs proportionally less to do a large than a small business.

An anticipation of an immense increase in the near future, in the commerce between the countries of the western and eastern hemispheres, owing especially to the introduction into the latter of better methods for effecting exchanges and transmitting in-

  1. According to statements submitted to the Royal (English) Commission on Trade Depression, "The quantity of pure silver used for coinage purposes, during the fourteen years ending 1884, was about eighteen per cent greater than the total production during that period; and there are other estimates which place the consumption at a still higher figure. It is to be remembered that the coinage demand is fed from other sources than the annual output of the mines. It is supplied to some extent by the melting down of old coinage. Allowing for this, however, the evidence of statistics goes to show that the coinage demand for the metal is, and has been, sufficient to absorb the whole of the annual supply that is left free after the consumption in the arts and manufactures has been supplied; and this conclusion is supported by the fact that nowhere throughout the world has there been any accumulation of un-coined stocks of the metal."—London Economist.
    The situation suggests what is reported to have been contemplated, namely, the formation of a syndicate—like the so-called recent French syndicate in copper—for intercepting the current market supplies of silver by speculative purchases and vast holdings, with a view of compelling an immediate rise in the bullion price of this metal.