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giving, in the days of peace. The bankers of England are of one mind in desiring that the useful activities of the Accepting Houses may continue and extend.
So far, then, as foreign trade is concerned, the above considerations show that English bankers have done their duty, and if any critics are unsatisfied they may fairly be asked to translate their complaints from the vague into the concrete.
The alleged inadequacy of the banking facilities for handling our home trade is, in the present writer's experience, a charge less frequently urged. It would, if true, be much more serious. If English banks could not, or would not, encourage home industries wherever such encouragement was legitimate, they would deserve the severest criticism and ought to be forced to amend their practice. But the worthy people who make this allegation seem to be labouring under the strange misconception that they are able, looking on from outside, to form a better judgment as to what banking accommodation should or should not be accorded to third parties than the bank managers, to whom the responsibility attaches for the decision given in each case. A specimen of this type of critic is furnished by the Major (retired) who, with true military intrepidity, wrote to the newspapers to say that there was no reason why any borrower from a bank should be charged more than I per cent. This naive proposal, if carried out, would enable us. all to borrow from our bankers at i per cent. and invest in Government securities at 47 per cent., and so increase our incomes to the extent of our borrowing facilities. There is also the entertaining ' Economist 'who wants to enrich everybody by unlimited credit. Such critics need not be taken too seriously. But no banker who is worth his salt has any objection to criticism based upon knowledge and good judgment; such criticism is always valuable and welcome.
Have the banks, then, been remiss in supporting legitimate home industry? Have they, considering that the funds they employ are trust funds, been unduly timid in their use? Have they lacked knowledge of business considerations ? The answer to these questions might be summed up in one comprehensive reply. It is the experience of all banks that the number of their loan refusals is very small indeed in proportion to the number of their assents. Obviously this connotes as good judgment on the part of borrowers as, it is hoped, upon the part of the banker-but it is a very significant fact. An honoured banker, head of one of the greatest of the provincial banks, used to lay it down as a principle that a customer's application for accommodation should never be refused if at all reasonable. It is true that such a dictum might leave a pretty wide door of escape, but it was meant in the spirit as well as the letter. In effect, it was a truism. No banker lightly refuses a request for a loan. He is there to lend; unless he lends he can earn nothing ; it is by lending wisely that he makes a profit. But judgment there must be, and somewhere and sometime, inevitably, a too large or too hazardous application meets with a refusal. A mythical hero of the banking world is said to have been able to produce the same grateful acquiescence by his negatives as by his affirmatives. One fears his secret has died with him, for few are the rejected applicants who concur in a refusal. This is only human, but not seldom has the would-be borrower had reason to be subsequently grateful that he was not assisted to embark upon a transaction which in retrospect he sees would have been unsound.
A complete examination of the monetary support given to our home trade would require the quotation of endless statistics. But let us instance a few of the great trades of the country and the methods of financing them. It has been shown how the cotton goods exporter is assisted; but before he appears on the scene the importer of the raw cotton from America, Brazil, Egypt, and India must be financed, and then, next in order, similar assistance must be given to the manufacturer in his mill. Cotton importing is a seasonal trade : that is to say, the produce is despatched from abroad and received in this country at certain seasons only, and not throughout the year. This connotes very large purchases during a few months for the whole year's stock, and involves a demand for large immediate advances repayable over a considerably extended period. Such requirements are met by bankers who accept drafts for, or advance cash to, their customers to enable them to make their heavy seasonal purchases. The customer's liability to the bank is discharged at leisure, as and when the produce is sold to and paid for by the spinner. He, in turn,
may require financing to enable him to buy the cotton and carry it until such time as he has been able to complete the conversion of the raw material into yarn or cloth and to sell it to a purchaser. Great sums of money are required for these purposes and are freely available. Our enormous imports of food—wheat, meat, bacon, fruit, etc.—also involve great monetary demands on the part of importers, and these demands are similarly met. No single article of our commerce, from hemp and jute to pepper and canary seed, from castor oil and rubber to fish and tinned peaches, is brought into this country without, in part, becoming the security for a bank advance. The writer of this article has financed the importers of and dealers in all of these things and a hundred others. Pulp, sugar, oils of every kind, fruit, timber (a great trade), wool, rum, wines, nitrates, furs—to what a length would the catalogue extend !
Follows the retailer. He too, in turn, requires his banker's aid to stock his warehouse or his shop. If he is honest and careful he is as readily helped as his larger neighbour, and here again it is well to remember how frequently such small traders have attained a high degree of prosperity by just such timely aid from their bankers. It can confidently be said that no trader of good repute, willing to disclose his whole position to his banker-confidence for confidence'-is ever refused proper accommodation if his position is sound. Why, indeed, should he be ?
More important still stand the great manufacturing concerns of this country, large joint-stock companies, in many cases, turning out the steel, the rolling stock, the rails, the machinery, the tools, the ships, the metals, the chemicals, the foodstuffs of our gigantic home and foreign trade. They, too, at times, as is disclosed in their published balance sheets, obtain those banking facilities which no trade, however great and important, may not from time to time require. Such facilities are at their beck and call, for they are the strong ones of the earth, and bankers are eager to gratify their great requirements.
But the enumeration of these things grows tedious. Everywhere and always, where there are capacity, good repute, and a reasonably sound position, (both the large and the small borrower are assured of banking support. The present writer
claims that he has written of his own knowledge and given real evidence. And he ventures to think that no criticism that is merely vague and general can stand against a careful and detailed presentment of the bankers' case.
What the policy of English bankers has effected in the late difficult days is known to all economists, and, we believe, to all thoughtful men of affairs. The locking up of funds supposed to be liquid inevitably brings its own nemesis, and it was well for this country, for its government, and for its business that English bankers had made it their practice to observe the old clear distinction between legitimate lending and the adventurous' banking advocated by outside critics.
A LONDON BANKER.
THE RE-EDUCATION OF DISABLED SOLDIERS
INCE September 1914 men have been discharged
from the army under a variety of formulae, but mainly for two reasons, either because they are physically unfit for ' further service,' or because they are ' unlikely to make efficient 'soldiers. Unlike the casualties of previous wars, these men for the most part are not 'old soldiers,' with the military habit and the military mould of mind resulting from years of service; they are civilians drawn from every stratum of society and from every sort of occupation. Their military service has been an interlude, after which they will return to take up their interrupted tasks or to find other tasks more suited to their altered capacity.
In the meantime profound changes have taken place at home : the industrial world that they knew has changed and is changing. Industrial conditions, Mr. Lloyd George has told us, are in solution. For the moment the State is the great employer and abnormally high wages prevail in the ' unproductive' employment of munition making. In spite of the influx of women and juveniles into the labour market, there is abundance of employment for men, even though they may be lacking a sound man's full capacity. This condition is temporary, but while it lasts labour has a fictitious value and the partially disabled man is faced with a temptation to take what in another connexion is called 'blind alley ' work at a good wage rather than to fit himself by training for a permanent occupation.
It is into this unreal industrial world that a steady stream of men of every degree of physical or mental disability is pouring. In no previous war has there been such an appalling variety of casualties, and this not only because of the vastly greater efficiency of the means employed to destroy life, but also because those means have been employed against men whose nerves and constitutions have not been hardened by years
preparation and familiarity with military machinery. We have thus, not only physical disabilities resulting from