Page:The Bank of England and the State, 1905.djvu/28

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The Bank of England and the State.

Economist returns they amounted to £768,000,000, exclusive of those of the Bank of England itself.

Then take the figures of the Budget. In 1844 the Revenue amounted to about £58,000,000 and the expenditure to about £55,000,000, compared with £143,370,000 and £141,956,000 last year; and, most important of all, take our Trade Returns, which, in 1845, showed Imports £88,000,000 and Exports of £68,000,000; in 1904, Imports of £551,000,000, and Exports of £371,000,000. The figures of the London Clearing House in 1904 attained the sum of £10,564,197,000, which sum has already been reached in the first ten months of this year. Is it not obvious that so vast a commerce could not be carried on with such an insignificant amount of circulating medium as represented by the Bank of England circulation, had not the function, which in 1844 this circulation was intended to perform and believed to perform, been supplanted by the banking facilities modern developments have provided, without, however, any appreciable increase of that stock of bullion on which our currency is based? Moreover it has to be remembered, particularly with regard to our foreign trade, that in 1844 we were the only country in the world whose currency was on a gold basis, and that since that time nearly every civilised country in the world now has a currency so based, that the possible demands on our reserves are thereby intensified, and that rapidity of communications and intercourse by telegraph and cable have brought sudden demands much more within the range of possibilities.

The fact must also be remembered that, until comparatively recently, we were the only great nation having large investments abroad, a condition which placed it in our power to obtain, and, having obtained, to retain, the gold supply from all available sources much more easily in 1844 than is now the case. On the other hand, the production of gold has also increased very considerably and, as we have been recently reminded by an American banker, amounts to about $1,000,000, or, say, £200,000 a day.