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Full text of "War-time financial problems"

THE  MONOPOLIST  RANSOM        171

to penalise the employment of cheques for small
sums. This would be a social loss/'

With^regard to the other side of his business,
lending to the borrowers, Mr Webb thinks it need
not be assumed that the monopolist banker will
actually lend less, because he will seek at all times
to employ all the capital or credit that he can safely
dispose of, but Mr Webb thinks that he is likely, as
the result of being relieved of the fear of competition,*
to feel free to be more arbitrary in his choice of
borrowers, and therefore able to indulge in dis-
crimination against persons or kinds of business that
he may dislike; that he will raise his charges
generally for all accommodation, again, theoretically
to " all that the traffic will bear " ; and, finally, that
in times of stress with regard to all applicants, and
at all times with regard to any applicant who was
" in a tight place/' that he will extort as the price
of indispensable help a theoretically unlimited
ransom.

Such are the effects which Mr Webb fears from
the process which has already put the control of the
greater part of the banking facilities of England into
the hands of five huge banks. He thinks that these
things may happen long before it is a question of an
absolute monopoly in one hand. A monopoly, he
says, may be more or less complete, and the economic
effects of monopoly may be produced to a greater
or less degree at a point far below a complete
monopolisation in a single hand. There is much
truth in this contention of his. Amalgamation has
now come to such a point that every new one not