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.
hoped to persuade the Peace Conference to make the redemption of these bank-notes, at the par of exchange, a first charge on German assets.  The Peace Conference held, however, that Reparation proper must take precedence of the adjustment of improvident banking transactions effected at an excessive rate of exchange.  The possession by the Belgian Government of this great mass of German currency, in addition to an amount of nearly two thousand million marks held by the French Government which they similarly exchanged for the benefit of the population of the invaded areas and of Alsace-Lorraine, is a serious aggravation of the exchange position of the mark.  It will certainly be desirable for the Belgian and German Governments to come to some arrangement as to its disposal, though this is rendered difficult by the prior lien held by the Reparation Commission over all German assets available for such purposes.

[82] It should be added, in fairness, that the very high claims put forward on behalf of Belgium generally include not only devastation proper, but all kinds of other items, as, for example, the profits and earnings which Belgians might reasonably have expected to earn if there had been no war.

[83] “The Wealth and Income of the Chief Powers,” by J.C.  Stamp (Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, July, 1919).

[84] Other estimates vary from $12,100,000,000 to $13,400,000,000.  See Stamp, loc. cit.

[85] This was clearly and courageously pointed out by M. Charles Gide in L’Emancipation for February, 1919.

[86] For details of these and other figures, see Stamp, loc. cit.

[87] Even when the extent of the material damage has been established, it will be exceedingly difficult to put a price on it, which must largely depend on the period over which restoration is spread, and the methods adopted.  It would be impossible to make the damage good in a year or two at any price, and an attempt to do so at a rate which was excessive in relation to the amount of labor and materials at hand might force prices up to almost any level.  We must, I think, assume a cost of labor and materials about equal to that current in the world generally.  In point of fact, however, we may safely assume that literal restoration will never be attempted.  Indeed, it would be very wasteful to do so.  Many of the townships were old and unhealthy, and many of the hamlets miserable.  To re-erect the same type of building in the same places would be foolish.  As for the land, the wise course may be in some cases to leave long strips of it to Nature for many years to come.  An aggregate money sum should be computed as fairly representing the value of the material damage, and France should be left to expend it in the manner she thinks wisest with a view to her economic enrichment as a whole.  The first breeze of this controversy has already blown through France.  A long and inconclusive debate occupied the Chamber during the

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