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Full text of "War-time financial problems"

THE   WAR  DEBT                  223

the war we have paid for as it went on, partly with
the help of loans from America and from other
countries—Argentina, Holland, Switzerland, etc.—
that have lent us money. These loans amount, as
far as they can be traced from the official figures, to
about £1300 millions. Against them we can set our
loans to our Dominions, over ^200 millions (a
perfectly good asset), and our loans to our Allies,
perhaps ^1500 millions, which the Chancellor pro-
poses to write down by 50 per cent., and might
perhaps treat still more drastically. To meet this
foreign debt we shall have to turn out so much stuff-
goods and services of all kinds—for sale abroad to
meet the interest and repayment. We have further
impoverished ourselves by selling our foreign
securities abroad. No figure has been published
giving any clue to the amount of these sales, and we
may perhaps guess them at ^1000 millions. If the
pre-war estimates of our overseas investments at
£4000 millions were anywhere near the mark, it thus
appears that we shall end the war still a great creditor
nation.

In so far as the debt was raised at home, the war
was paid for by those who bought the securities
offered, and we have now to pay them interest and
set about repaying them, the capital. This process
will not diminish the national wealth, but will
only affect its distribution. It will not diminish the
amount of available capital, but may even rather
increase it by gathering into the hands of the debt-
holders—who are ex-hypothesi folk with an inclina-
tion for saving—money that might, if left in the