And when all is admitted concerning the failure of the existing standard of value, the question is, what substitute can we find which will carry with it all the advantages that gold has been shown to possess, and at the same time maintain that steadiness of value which gold has certainly lacked? We hear airy talk of an international currency based on the credit of the nations leagued together to promote economic peace. It is certainly very obvious that the diplomatic relations of the world require complete reform, and the system by which the nations at present settle disputes between themselves has been found by the experience of the last four years to be so disgusting, so barbarous and so ridiculous that all the most civilised nations of the world are determined to go on with it until it is stopped for ever. Nevertheless, obvious as it is that some kind of a League of Nations is essential as a form of international police if civilisation is to be rescued from destruction, it is very doubtful whether such an organisation could, at least during the first half-century or so of its existence, be called upon to tackle so difficult a question as that of the creation of an international currency based on international credit. In the first place, what will be required more than anything else after the war in economic matters will be the elimination of all possible reasons for uncertainty; so much uncertainty and difficulty will be inevitable that it seems to me to be almost criminal to add to those uncertainties by an outburst of eloquence on the part of currency reformers if there were any danger of their recommendations being accepted. It will be difficult enough to know where the producers of the world are to get raw material, find efficient labour, and then find a market for their products, without at the same time upsetting their minds with doubts concerning some kind of new-fangled currency that is to be created, and in which they are to be made to accept payment, with the possibilities of changes in the system which may have to be effected owing to some quite unforeseen results happening from its adoption. The gold standard, with all its failures, we do know; we also know that something may be done some day to remedy them if mankind can produce a set of rulers capable of approaching the question with all the knowledge and experience required; but to substitute this system at a time of great uncertainty for one which might or might not work would seem to be tempting Providence in an entirely unnecessary manner at a time when it is above all necessary to get the economic ship as far as possible on an even keel.
If the proposed substitute is to succeed it will have to be at least as acceptable as gold, and at the same time its quantity must be so regulated as to be at all times constant in relation to the output of commodities. Can we pretend that the economic enlightenment of mankind has yet reached a point at which such a currency could be produced and regulated by the Governments of the world and be accepted by their citizens?