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Full text of "War-time financial problems"

ADVANTAGES  OF DEPRECIATION    145

power of the alleged standard and a rise in the prices
of other commodities. This means to say that the
investor who has accepted repayment at the end of
30 years of the amount that he lent, be it £IQO or
^10,000, has found that the money repaid to him
had by no means the same buying power as the
money which he originally invested.

Within limits this tendency of the standard of
value towards depreciation has possessed consider-
able advantages, probably much greater advantages
than would have followed from the contrary process
if it had been the other way round. If we can
imagine that the currency history of the world had
been such that a constantly diminished quantity of
currency in relation to the output of other commo-
dities had caused a steady fall in prices, it is obvious
that there might have been a very considerable
check to the enthusiasm of industry. It has indeed
been contended that the scarcity of precious metals
which, with the absence of an organised credit
system, produced this result during the later Roman
Empire was a very important cause of the decay
into which that Empire fell I do not feel at all
convinced that this effect would necessarily have
followed the cause. It seems to me that the
ingenuity of enterprising man is such that the pro-
ducer might, and probably would, have found means
for facing the probability of depreciation in price.
But it is always an empty pastime to try to imagine
what would have happened " if things had been
otherwise/1 What we do know is that a period of
rising prices, especially if the rise does not go too