A less important but still very objectionable consequence of the flood of currency and credit that the Government has poured out to fill a gap in its war finance is the encouragement that it has given to a host of monetary quacks who believe that all the financial ills of the world can be saved if only you give it enough money to handle, oblivious of the effect on prices of mere multiplication of claims to goods without a corresponding increase in the volume of goods. These enthusiasts have seen that during war a Government can produce money as fast as it likes, and since they think that producing money makes every one happy they propose to adopt this simple method for paying off war debt, restarting trade and generally creating a monetary millennium. How far their nostrums are likely to be adopted, no one can yet say, but some of the utterances of our rulers make one shudder.
Into this atmosphere of quackery and delusion the report of the Committee on Currency and Foreign Exchanges breathes a refreshing blast of sound common sense. Everybody ought to read it. It costs but twopence; it is only a dozen pages long, and it is described (if you want to order it) as Cd. 9182. In view of the many attacks that have been made on our banking system—especially the Bank Act of 1844—by Chambers of Commerce and others before the war, it is rather surprising that so little criticism should have been heard of this Report, which practically advocates a return, as rapidly as possible, to the practice and principles imposed by that Act. It may be that peace, and all the preoccupations that have followed it, have absorbed men’s minds so entirely that questions of currency seem to be an untimely irrelevance; or possibly the very heavy weight of the Committee’s authority may have silenced the opposition to its recommendations. Presided over by Lord Cunliffe, the late Governor of the Bank, and including Sir John Bradbury and Professor Pigou and an imposing list of notable bankers, it was a body whose opinion could only be challenged by critics gifted with the most serene self-confidence.
One of the most interesting—especially to advocates of sound finance—points in its Report is the implied condemnation that it pronounces on the methods by which the war has been financed by our rulers. It points out that “the need of the Government for funds wherewith to finance the war in excess of the amounts raised by taxation or by loans from the public has made necessary the creation of credits in their favour with the Bank of England.... The balances created by these operations passing by means of payments to contractors and others to the Joint Stock banks have formed the foundation of a great growth in their deposits, which have also been swelled by the creation of credits in connection with the subscriptions to the various War Loans.... The greatly increased volume of bank deposits, representing a corresponding increase of purchasing power and,