Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER III: Financial Feudalism - Socialistic Fallacies
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
Also in the Library:
CHAPTER III: Financial Feudalism - Yves Guyot, Socialistic Fallacies 
Socialistic Fallacies (London: Cope and Fenwick, 1910).
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
M. A. Neymarck—Sub-division of transferable securities—Certificates of railway shares—Bonds—Government stock—The “Banque de France”—Loans on landed security—Saving bank deposits—American millionaires and feudal lords.
M. A. NEymarck made a series of studies in 1893, in 1896, and in 1903, in the “Sub-division of transferable securities,”1 bearing upon government stock, shares and bonds of the “Credit Foncier” (a bank issuing loans upon the security of landed property), and shares and bonds of railway companies representing approximately a capital of 55,000 millions of francs (£2,200,000,000) out of the 85 to 90 milliards of francs (£3,400,000,000 to £3,600,000,000) belonging to French capitalists.
In 1860, the average number of shares in railway companies registered on each certificate was 28.33: on December 31st, 1900, it was 12.49. The number of certificates was 40,846 in 1860 and 112,026 in 1900. The number of certificates has nearly trebled, while the number of small holders of securities has more than doubled. The value of these certificates, at the prices ruling in 1900, was as follows:—
That is to say a maximum of 26,000 francs and a minimum of 10,000. Out of 100 shareholders, 75 owned only from 1 to 10 shares. Here we have the “financial feudalism” referred to in Socialist orations.
The bonds of the railway companies were distributed as follows:—
354,731 of from 1 to 24, say a capital of from
Nearly 95 per cent. of the shares are the property of investors who hold a maximum number of 100 securities. The total French Government stock is divided among more than five million subscribers. The average is hardly more than 150 francs in interest, say a capital of 5,000 francs. More than 80 per cent. belongs to investors with an income of from two to fifty francs. The number of holders is more than two millions.
The Banque de France is an investment patronised by rich men. In 1870 the number of shareholders was 16,062, with an average holding of 12 shares: in 1900 it was 27,136 with an average of 6½: at the end of 1908 it was 31,249, of whom 10,381 owned one share and 17,403 between 2 and 10.
Of 39,000 shareholders of the Crédit Foncier in 1900, 32,767 owned 10 shares or less.
The “Revue Socialiste” has stated the number of deposits in the savings banks in 1904 to be as follows:—
It follows from these figures that these 11,767,772 depositors possess an average deposit of 378 francs, constituting a tolerably small property and that of these 11,767,772 proprietors or capitalists (as M. Yves Guyot or M. Paul Leroy-Beaulieu would freely call them) more than half (3,908,800 + 2,291,489) have an “average capital” varying between 49 and 11 francs, while their income varies between 2 fr. 47 and 33 centimes (“Revue socialiste”).
What do these figures prove? That the savings bank does not represent a concentration of capital. It cannot, therefore, be invoked as an argument in favour of Karl Marx' thesis, but these small deposits none the less represent a sum of four milliards of francs (£160,000,000) and that is a total which is not to be despised.
Twenty-five years ago, in 1882, the savings banks had:—
One knows that the savings bank does not allow of deposits above 1,500 francs. This progress points to the increase of would-be capitalists. So far from decreasing they become more and more numerous, in spite of Karl Marx' law of concentration, which involves the “pauperisation” of the great majority. But Messrs. Rockfeller, Carnegie and perhaps two or three others are multi-millionaires. Be it so, but do they absorb a greater proportion of wealth than the great feudal lords and kings of the good old times? Quite the contrary. Therefore the alleged law of the concentration of capital is not in accordance with the facts.
Société de Statistique de Paris (Séances du 19 mars, 1902, et du 18 mars, 1903.)