The Economic Consequences of the Peace eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 239 pages of information about The Economic Consequences of the Peace.

An addition to this of $150,000,000, to cover air raids, bombardments, claims of interned civilians, and miscellaneous items of every description, should be more than sufficient,—­making a total claim for Great Britain of $2,850,000,000.  It is surprising, perhaps, that the money value of Great Britain’s claim should be so little short of that of France and actually in excess of that of Belgium.  But, measured either by pecuniary loss or real loss to the economic power of the country, the injury to her mercantile marine was enormous.

There remain the claims of Italy, Serbia, and Roumania for damage by invasion and of these and other countries, as for example Greece,[93] for losses at sea.  I will assume for the present argument that these claims rank against Germany, even when they were directly caused not by her but by her allies; but that it is not proposed to enter any such claims on behalf of Russia.[94] Italy’s losses by invasion and at sea cannot be very heavy, and a figure of from $250,000,000 to $500,000,000 would be fully adequate to cover them.  The losses of Serbia, although from a human point of view her sufferings were the greatest of all,[95] are not measured pecuniarily by very great figures, on account of her low economic development.  Dr. Stamp (loc. cit.) quotes an estimate by the Italian statistician Maroi, which puts the national wealth of Serbia at $2,400,000,000 or $525 per head,[96] and the greater part of this would be represented by land which has sustained no permanent damage.[97] In view of the very inadequate data for guessing at more than the general magnitude of the legitimate claims of this group of countries, I prefer to make one guess rather than several and to put the figure for the whole group at the round sum of $1,250,000,000.

We are finally left with the following—­

Belgium $ 2,500,000,000[98]
France 4,000,000,000
Great Britain 2,850,000,000
Other Allies 1,250,000,000
Total $10,600,000,000

I need not impress on the reader that there is much guesswork in the above, and the figure for France in particular is likely to be criticized.  But I feel some confidence that the general magnitude, as distinct from the precise figures, is not hopelessly erroneous; and this may be expressed by the statement that a claim against Germany, based on the interpretation of the pre-Armistice engagements of the Allied Powers which is adopted above, would assuredly be found to exceed $8,000,000,000 and to fall short of $15,000,000,000.

This is the amount of the claim which we were entitled to present to the enemy.  For reasons which will appear more fully later on, I believe that it would have been a wise and just act to have asked the German Government at the Peace Negotiations to agree to a sum of $10,000,000,000 in final settlement, without further examination of particulars.  This would have provided an immediate and certain solution, and would have required from Germany a sum which, if she were granted certain indulgences, it might not have proved entirely impossible for her to pay.  This sum should have been divided up amongst the Allies themselves on a basis of need and general equity.

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The Economic Consequences of the Peace from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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