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Form P. R. 131


Office Correspondence
Chairman Eccles

DateApniiE, 1959,
Subject L_.

Mr- Ransom


I think you will find the attached, which is from
the Committee on Monetary Policy and Credit of the International
Chamber of Commerce, interesting • It was referred to in one of
Mr. Merle Cochranfs confidential letters. He sent me the original
from which the enclosed copy is made, and, while it is not marked
"Confidential", it is asked that you will so treat it due to the
channels through which it came to my notice. It was issued some
time the latter part of 19S8.

No.58, Cours Albert l e r - Paris,Vlllf
Financial Department

Document N° 6665 - or,


18*10*1958 - sc*

1* For some years - more especially since the economic and financial
crisis of 1929/52 threw business into a chaos from which it seemed incapable of
extricating itself by its own strength - the Governments of a number of countries
hare played a prominent and possibly increasing part in economic affairs* Lower
interest and protective tariffs and quotas have been resorted to* But in addition,
Government expenditure on a large scale has been directly deployed to assist or
maintain economic recovery,
2* Both the manner of Government spending and the methods of financing
such expenditure have varied greatly as between one country and another; and the
results achieved have been divergent in different countries and under different
5* The objects, or avowed objects, have not everywhere been the same;
though, generally speaking, they have all stood in more or less close relation to
the problem of reducing unemployment, which - having reached some 50,000,000 according to League of Nations extimates in 1952/55 - was the most urgent economic and
indeed political issue confronting statesmen*
4* Almost at once, however, striking dissimilarities are apparent in
the treatment adopted and in the results that followed* If due allowance is made for
the special characteristics of particular countries, there may remain, in abstraction
from these, a field for study and discussion of the general scope and potentialities,
the uses and the abuses of Government expenditure and entrepreneurial activities - and
of the various methods of financing these - as a means of counteracting depression
and unemployment and of securing prosperity and stability •
5* In the United-States, a,s is well known, Government finance was at first
used to rescue the banking structure* Or rather, even before that, it had been used
to support the ftrice of wheat* Later it also came to the rescue of cotton. That is,
apart ffrom saving the depositors1 money, the Government endeavoured to raise and to
prop up the price-structure * Again, at another juncture, it itself entered the field
of public utility and other enterprise, calculated to afford employment directly* to
large numbers of workmen* Relief and recovery activities of the U* 3. Government
cover, altogether, a wide field*
6. From the outset, the American Government, though it increased taxation,
had recourse to loans for the requisite finance. The National Debt has thereby been
doubled in relatively few years* And nhen at the beginning of 1957 the Administration
took steps to reduce relief expenditure (in the widest sense), in order gradually
to terminate a regime d^ficitaire* a deflationary impetus arose, causing a sharp
economic relapse and rise in unemployment* Prices also fell back, though as regards
wheat and cotton special causes were at work. In any case, prosperity suffered a


H° 6665
- 2 -

drastic setback. Some valuable redistribution of the national income may hare been
effected, though even the large financial stimulus injected into American economy had
at no time restored total national income to the 1929 level - attained, it is well to
observe, after 9 successive and bulky Budget surpluses which had actually reduced the
Federal Debt by # 9 billion. Otherwise, the Government expenditure aimed at economic welfare seems only to have lifted the general economy out of a morass, without
reconditioning or steadying it. For the current year another heavy deficit - $ 4
billion - is announced, which appears to be improving business once more. But is
it not necessary to take into account both the financial (cumulative) effects of a
regime deficitaire in the long run; and perhaps hardly less, the psychological
influence on business confidence and sentiment generally?
Here there seems to be an appropriate field for careftal inquiry.
7. Scrutiny of the economic implications of U. S. policy and of the working
of economic cause and effect under its influence is rendered all the more appropriate if comparison is made with the action and experience of other countries.
In the U.K* confidence was udaolly destroyed (in 1951) by the prospect of
a heavy fiscal deficitj it was restored by the imposition of punitive taxation,
whose effects were, at any rate at first, positively deflationary in their economic
impact. Government relief expenditure was increased only to a moderate extent;
agriculture and certain industries received subsidies; and the whole of this outlay
had to be contained within the four corners of the Budget. Ho direct expenditure
was engaged in«, no enterprise undertaken by Government to provide employment for the
workless. The basis of credit was greatly expanded, the cost of money reduced,
confidence restored and the conomic machine left to work out its own recovery.
Two important factors assisted it, of cotirse, at any rate in the short run:
1. The imposition of tariffs, affording a sudden- and one-time - stimulus to
domestic production and enterprise;
2. The depreciation of sterling exchange.
The effect of the latter could, however, easily be overrated since it
exerted a deflationary pressure on all countries outside the sterling group,
thereby retarding world recovery.
By these methods unemployment was greatly reduced and a conspicuous
recovery achieved. (In the personal opinion of the writer, unemployment in the
TJ.1L, though still at nominally 1,200,000, fell in the recovery to a point at
which the residue of workless were, commercially and practically speaking, unemployables.) When at length the British Government embarked on special (re-armament)
expenditure, financed by borrowing, the effects were almost wholly adverse.
Industry being fully employed, the incursion of the Government caused a steep
rise in prices followed inevitably by a sharp break in demand.
Here it will be interesting to see the further effects of Government
expenditure now that (a) industry (in many sections) is not fully employed, and(b) the advantages of both tariffs and exchange depreciation have worn off.


N° 6665

Thus the experience of Britain affords something in the nature of a
negative offset to that of the U.S. recovery with little or no direct intervention
(financially); and relapse despite the impact of Government expenditure on a
more than negligible scale.
8. In Germany again, matters have been handled quite differently. Unemployment having assumed all the dimensions of a social and political disaster,
direct employment-giving work was undertaken on a vast scale by the Government.
Finance was provided by the creation of short-term debt and the expansion of the
credit structure to support it. A rise in prices due to such expansion could not be
prevented; but it has been arrested and a high measure of stability introduced into
wages, salaries and prices. By the vigour with which the German Government restarted industry and other activity, through public works and re-armament, it has
both unfrozen the banks and brought into operation a large "multiplier* in relation
to its own direct expenditure. That is, the turnover and employment created by it
have, in turn, stimulated and generated further trade and turnover, thus producing
a large increase in total national income. On the other hand, the German Government
has moved forward from a policy of apparent indiscriminate debt creation to one of
very severe taxation - without so far producing harmful economic effects. In fact,
the Budget may be described as "overbalanced*. Less than half, perhaps, of the
fiscal income is now required to cover current administrative expenses, the rest
constituting a capital fund derived out of the taxable income of the nation., It
would require too much time and space to deal at all fully with the methods employed
by Germany, but it may be suggested that with, of course, important differences,
they seem to combine the gigantic fiscal expenditure, in part applied directly to
employment-giving work and enterprise, of the United States with the concentration
upon fiscal equilibrium characteristic of the United Kingdom.
9. Both the expedients resorted to and the experience resulting firom
them are quite different in the case of France. Here there is the great difference
that France is seldom beset with unemployment on anything like a dangerous scale.
Following a line which is almost the direct opposite of that pursued in Germany and
nearer perhaps to that of the United States, France has concentrated in various
ways upon providing and re-distributing money income, where&s Germany has first
and last emphasised the need for production as the "basis* of its economy. The
implications of this striking contrast,, extending also to the United States where
large bonuses have been distributed with no countervailing production being called
into existence (as in the case of France where production has been positively
limited) are also worth comparative study and investigation*
10. Italy set its face from the outset against the distribution of the
dole. But it has gone further in some ways than Germany in that apart from direct
Government enterprise on a large scale, coupled with re-armament, it has subsidised
large sections of industry. In the process and in the main unintentionally many of
them have been reduced really to a no-cost-of-production basis. They can carry on
only with constant Government support. Debt has been very freely created by the
Government, without really securing prosperity for the national economy. Instead,
the long succession of sharply deflationary measures has accompanied and contradicted the activising enterprise and expenditure engaged in by the Government. The


M° 6665

equipment of the country has improved out of all recognition, but is hardly on a
commercial basis and is balanced - as it is to a lesser extent in Germany - by a
decided decline in the standard of consumption or consumers well-being. In a word,
the fact of large scale Government intervention in both these countries, though it
has had the saving grace of banishing unemployment and re-gearing the capital goods
and investment goods industries, has been very unbalanced from an economic point
of view in the effects produced and the benefits conferred. Again, there is a
difference between the two countries in that Germany, starting with a diminutive
domestic national debt - (due to extinction of former debt through currency
depreciation) is still in a very favoured position as regards the burden of debt
charges? whereas Italy has accumulated not only indebtedness which must sooner or
later become disquieting, but has so far, by inhibiting a noteworthy rise in the
price level, allowed the real weight of such debt to remain very great.
This purports to be no more than a
suggestion, covering some of the many aspects
in relation to economic prosperity. Perhaps,
the major questions at issue will be found to

very rough and ready and cursory
of Government finance and expenditure
if worked out in appropriate detail,
deserve deliberation and discussion.