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Full text of "War-time financial problems"

OUR  STRENGTH AS  CREDITOR        99

very greatly the number of men we have put into
the firing-line so as to keep them at home for pro-
ductive work, or, by the enormous amount of our
borrowings, we should have cheapened the value
of British credit abroad to a much greater extent
than has been the case. Our position as a great
creditor country was an enormously valuable asset,
not only during the war but also before it, both
from a financial and industrial point of view. It
gave us control of the foreign exchanges by enabling
us, at any time, to turn the balance of trade in our
favour by ceasing for a time to lend money abroad,
and calling upon foreign countries to pay us the inter-
due from them. The financial connections which it
implied were of the greatest possible assistance to us
in enhancing British prestige, and so helping our
industry and commerce to push the wares that they
produced and handled.

Reform of the Companies Acts has often before
the war been a more or less burning question.
Whenever the public thought that it had been
swindled by the company promoting machinery, it
used to write letters to the newspapers and point
out that it was a scandal that the sharks of the City
should be allowed to prey upon the ignorant public,
and that something ought to be done by Parliament
to insure that investments offered to the public
should somehow or other be made absolutely water-
tight and safe, while by some unexplained method
the public would still be somehow able to derive
large benefits from fortunate speculations in enter-
prises which turned out right. Every one must