Financially, Russia ambles along like the Big Bear she typifies. In one respect her method of financing the war cost differs distinctly from her Allies in the fact that she has received heavy advances from England and France. From England alone she borrowed $1,250,000,000 which was expended for arms and ammunition and field equipment. The Czar’s Empire has put out five internal loans while the rest of the money needed has been raised out of the sale of short term Treasury Bills, paper money issues and tax levies.
Except for the few millions of dollars obtained in the United States, Germany’s financing—like her whole conduct of the war—is self-contained. Through five Imperial 5 per cent loans ranging from one to three billion dollars each, she has established a war credit of $12,500,000,000. This money—to a smaller degree than in France—has come from the great mass of the German people.
Other sources of revenue that are enabling the Kaiser to pay for the war are Treasury Bills sold at home and a taxation that is moderate compared with the colossal pre-war taxation which spelled Germany’s Preparedness. At the time I write this chapter her war expenditure had passed the $14,000,000,000 mark. Tack on to this Germany’s peace debt of $5,000,000,000 more and you begin to see—with all the uncertainty of the war’s duration—the immense burden that the Fatherland will have to carry. The war’s drain on the German future is perhaps greater than that of any other country because all her war loans are long term. She has also loaned nearly $1,000,000,000 to Austria, Turkey and Bulgaria.
The Teutonic war cost has one distinct advantage over all others in that it is confined within the German borders. Hence Germany can do as she pleases with regard to its settlement. If the Mailed Fist obtains after the war she can clamp it down on her loans, wipe them out as she chooses and no one can offer a protest.
Now let us dump all these statistics that represent so much blood, agony and sacrifice into the middle of the table and strike a final balance sheet.
On one hand you have the assets of the warring countries as represented by their national wealth. For the Allies, including Roumania, they show a total of $273,000,000,000: for the Central Powers they register $134,000,000,000. If wealth is the winning factor then the Allies have the advantage in weight of buying metal.
Take the other side of the ledger and you see that up to November 1, 1916, the four principal allied countries, England, France, Russia and Italy, had spent on direct war cost approximately $34,000,000,000, while the total Teutonic war expenditures have been $21,000,000,000. To this actual war cost must be added the peace debts of the belligerent nations which would supplement the allied expense account by $17,465,000,000 and that of the enemy nations by $9,808,000,000.
Striking a grand total of liabilities, you find that if the war mercifully ends by August 1, 1917 (as Kitchener predicted it might), the fighting peoples would face a debt burden of all kinds that had reached $105,773,000,000.