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Full text of "War-time financial problems"

34 WAR FINANCE AS IT MIGHT HAVE BEEN

City as to what had to be done. The measures
then employed erred, if at all, on the side of doing
too much, which was certainly a mistake in the
right direction if in any. What is much more
evident is the fact that not only had there been no
attempt to provide against just such a'jolt to our
financial machine as took place when the war began,
but that, quite apart from the financial machinery
of the City, no reasoned and thought-out attention
had been given to the great problems of govern-
mental finance which war on such a scale brought
with it. There is, of course, the excuse that nobody
expected the war to be on this scale, or to last so
long. The general view was that the struggle would
be over in a few months, and must certainly be so
if for no other reason because the economic strain
would be so great that the nations of Europe could
not stand it for a long time. On the other hand, we
must remember that Lord Kitchener, whom most
men then regarded as representing all that was most
trustworthy in military opinion, made arrangements
from the beginning on the assumption that the war
might last for three years. So, while some excuse
may be made for our lack of financial foresight, it
does seem to have been the duty of those whose
business it is to manage our finances to have thought
out a complete scheme to be adopted in case of war
if at any time we should be involved in one on a
European scale. Instead of which, not only would
it appear that no such endeavour had been made by
our Treasury experts before the war, but that no
such endeavour has ever been made by them since