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.

(a) Gold.—­After deduction of the gold to be returned to Russia, the official holding of gold as shown in the Reichsbank’s return of the 30th November, 1918, amounted to $577,089,500.  This was a very much larger amount than had appeared in the Reichsbank’s return prior to the war,[117] and was the result of the vigorous campaign carried on in Germany during the war for the surrender to the Reichsbank not only of gold coin but of gold ornaments of every kind.  Private hoards doubtless still exist, but, in view of the great efforts already made, it is unlikely that either the German Government or the Allies will be able to unearth them.  The return can therefore be taken as probably representing the maximum amount which the German Government are able to extract from their people.  In addition to gold there was in the Reichsbank a sum of about $5,000,000 in silver.  There must be, however, a further substantial amount in circulation, for the holdings of the Reichsbank were as high as $45,500,000 on the 31st December, 1917, and stood at about $30,000,000 up to the latter part of October, 1918, when the internal run began on currency of every kind.[118] We may, therefore, take a total of (say) $625,000,000 for gold and silver together at the date of the Armistice.

These reserves, however, are no longer intact.  During the long period which elapsed between the Armistice and the Peace it became necessary for the Allies to facilitate the provisioning of Germany from abroad.  The political condition of Germany at that time and the serious menace of Spartacism rendered this step necessary in the interests of the Allies themselves if they desired the continuance in Germany of a stable Government to treat with.  The question of how such provisions were to be paid for presented, however, the gravest difficulties.  A series of Conferences was held at Treves, at Spa, at Brussels, and subsequently at Chateau Villette and Versailles, between representatives of the Allies and of Germany, with the object of finding some method of payment as little injurious as possible to the future prospects of Reparation payments.  The German representatives maintained from the outset that the financial exhaustion of their country was for the time being so complete that a temporary loan from the Allies was the only possible expedient.  This the Allies could hardly admit at a time when they were preparing demands for the immediate payment by Germany of immeasurably larger sums.  But, apart from this, the German claim could not be accepted as strictly accurate so long as their gold was still untapped and their remaining foreign securities unmarketed.  In any case, it was out of the question to suppose that in the spring of 1919 public opinion in the Allied countries or in America would have allowed the grant of a substantial loan to Germany.  On the other hand, the Allies were naturally reluctant to exhaust on the provisioning of Germany the gold which seemed

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