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Full text of "War-time financial problems"

2          THE OUTLOOK FOR CAPITAL

if we first get a clear idea of what we mean by
capital.

On the subject of the definition of capital, econo-
mists differ with all the consistency that they only
show in differing. One of the earliest descriptions
of capital was given by Turgot, who thought that
capital meant " valeurs accumulees." In this wide
sense the word covers all goods which have value,
that is, can be exchanged into other goods. From
this point of view, the schoolboy who invests six-
pence in marbles is a capitalist, because he has bought
an asset which is not immediately consumed, but
can, later on, if his fancy urges him, be exchanged
into white mice or any other object of his desire.
On the other hand, the schoolfellow who at the same
time spends sixpence on cherries and eats them has
put his money into immediate consumption, his asset
is digested, and he has no capital in any sense of
the word.

Later, the definition was narrowed by John Stuart
Mill, for instance, into the sense of wealth set aside
to increase production. From this point of view
capital practically means the equipment and tools of
industry in the widest sense of the word, including
agriculture and transport. Lately economists have
shown a tendency to go back to the wider application
of the word, and an American economist, Dr Ander-
son, who has just published a book on the Value of
Money, goes so far therein as to state that a " dollar
is capital/' The language of the City generally uses
the word in the narrow sense adopted by Mill, and
there is very much to be said for this view of the