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Full text of "War-time financial problems"

EXPANDING BUSINESS             283

which outside dealers were exempt was certainly
a hardship. On the other harfd, since the armistice
there has been a considerable expansion in Stock
Exchange business. Oil shares, Mexican securities,
industrial shares, insurance shares, and others in
which capitalisation of reserves and bonus issues
have been used as an effective lever for speculation,
have enjoyed spells of considerable activity. With
this revival in progress, in spite of many obvious
bear points, such as industrial unrest at home,
Bolshevism abroad, the continuance of heavy ex-
penditure by the Government, and the hardly slack-
ened growth of the national debt, it seems to have
been scarcely necessary in the interests of the House
to have made regulations which, though perhaps
demanded by abstract justice, imposed new ties on
enterprise at a time when complete freedom, as far
as it was consistent with the best interests of the
country, was most of all desirable.

How far, we have next to ask, is it necessary for
the best interests of the country to restrict the
freedom of capital issues ? If we look back at the
terms of reference under which the reconstituted
Committee is to work, we see that the officially
expressed objects are (i) preserving capital for
essential undertakings in the United Kingdom,
and (2) preventing any avoidable drain upon Foreign
Exchanges by the export of capital. There is cer-
tainly much to be said for both these objects. When
we lend money to foreigners we give them the right
to draw on us now in return for their promises to
pay some day ; in other words, we make an invisible