- Prefatory Note to Volumes Iii and Iv
- Pamphlets and Papers Written For Publication 1809–1811
- Note On the Bullion Essays
- The Price of Gold Three Contributions to the Morning Chronicle1809
- The Price of Gold 1
- [first Reply to ‘a Friend to Bank-notes’] to the Editor of the Morning Chronicle.1
- [second Reply to ‘a Friend to Bank-notes’] to the Editor of the Morning Chronicle.1
- [appendix to ‘the Price of Gold’
- [a Reply By Trower]
- [a Further Reply By Ricardo]1
- The High Price of Bullion 1810– 11
- Three Letters to the Morning Chronicle On the Bullion Report 1810
- [three Letters On the Bullion Report] Report of the Bullion Committee1to Theeditor of the Morning Chronicle.
- [on Sir John Sinclair’s ‘observations’] Bullion Report1to Theeditor of the Morning Chronicle.
- [on Mr Randle Jackson’s Speech] Bullion Report1to Theeditor of the Morning Chronicle.
- Reply to Mr. Bosanquet’s ‘practical Observations On the Report of the Bullion Committee’, 1811
- Chapter I: Preliminary Observations.—mr. Bosanquet’s Objections to the Conclusions of the Bullion Committee Briefly Stated.
- Chapter II: Mr. Bosanquet’s Alleged Facts, Drawn From the History of the State of Exchange, Considered.
- Chapter III: Mr. Bosanquet’s Alleged Facts, In Supposed Refutation of the Conclusion That a Rise In the Market Price of Bullion Above the Mint Price Proves a Depreciation of the Currency, Considered.
- Chapter IV: Mr. Bosanquet’s Objections to the Statement, That the Balance of Payments Has Been In Favour of Great Britain, Examined.
- Chapter V: Mr. Bosanquet’s Argument to Prove That the Bank of England Hasnotthe Power of Forcing the Circulation of Bank Notes—considered.
- Chapter VI: Observations On the Principles of Seignorage.
- Chapter VII: Mr. Bosanquet’s Objections to the Proposition, That the Circulation of the Bank of England Regulates That of the Country Banks, Considered.
- Chapter VIII: Mr. Bosanquet’s Opinion—that Years of Scarcity and Taxes Have Been the Sole Cause of the Rise of Prices, Excessive Circulation No Cause—considered.
- Chapter IX: Mr. Bosanquet’s Opinion, That Evil Would Result From the Resumption of Cash Payments—considered.
- Notes On Bentham’s ‘sur Les Prix’ 1810– 1811
- Notes On the Bullion Report and Evidence 1810
- (a): [notes On the Report of the Bullion Committee]
- (b): [rough Notes On the First Part of the Minutes of Evidence]
- (c): [notes On the Minutes of Evidence] Minutes of Evidence
- Notes On Trotter’s ‘principles of Currency and Exchanges’ 1810
- Observations On Trower’s Notes On Trotter 1811
- Observations On Vansittart’s Propositions Respecting Money, Bullion and Exchanges 1811
[FIRST REPLY TO ‘A FRIEND TO BANK-NOTES’]
To the editor of the morning chronicle.
In the observations which I made on the high price of gold in the Morning Chronicle of the 29th ultimo, I expressed my apprehensions of the serious consequences which might attend the increasing depreciation of paper. By lessening the value of the property of so many persons, and that in any degree they pleased, it appeared to me that the Bank might involve many thousands in ruin. I wished, therefore, to call the attention of the public to the very dangerous power with which that body was entrusted; but I did not apprehend, any more than your Correspondent, under the signature of “A Friend to Bank Notes,” that the issues of the Bank would involve us in the dangers of a national bankruptcy.
Allowing to this writer, that the demand for gold has increased, whilst the usual supplies have been withheld, I am not convinced by any arguments which he has advanced, that the market price of gold could have been thereby affected, unless the medium in which the price was estimated was depreciated. That the scarcity of gold should increase its value cannot be doubted; that it would in consequence, when exchanged for other commodities, command an increased quantity of them, is as certain; but no scarcity, however great, can raise the market price much above the mint price, unless it be measured by a depreciated currency.
A pound of gold is coined into forty-four guineas and a half, or 46l. 14s. 6d. This is, therefore, the mint price, and cannot be called, as your Correspondent calls it, an arbitrary value. It is the simple declaration of a fact, that forty-four guineas and a half are of the same weight as a pound of gold, and one-twelfth of that quantity or 3l. 17s. 10½d. of an ounce.
Experience has proved to us, and particularly that of the twenty years preceding 1797, during the vicissitudes of war and peace, of favorable and unfavorable trade, that 46l. 14s. 6d. or a mint pound, would purchase sometimes a little more, and sometimes a little less than a pound of uncoined gold; and whilst an equal amount of bank notes would do the same, they would not be said to be depreciated. This they always did previous to the restriction on the Bank paying in specie, and for some time after it. Will this writer explain to us why any demand, however great, should induce any one to give, as has been lately done, 55l. 16s. in bank notes, for a pound of gold, if they are of equal value with 55l. 16s. in coin? Does he reflect that the gold actually contained in 55l. 16s. weighs one pound and a fifth of a pound? Is it seriously believed that he would give this for a pound? If it is agreed that he would not, then is the fact of the depreciation of bank notes fully established. If for the purchase of gold a greater quantity of corn, hardware, or any other commodity, were given than usual, it might justly be said that the scarcity of gold had increased in value. But what is the fact? If I go to market with corn or hardware, I can purchase 55l. 16s. in bank notes with precisely the same quantity that I am obliged to give to procure a pound of gold, or 46l. 14s. 6d.
I do not dispute with this writer but that it may be advantageous to a foreigner to send his goods to London, and after selling them for 25s. give that sum for the purchase of a guinea. He may possibly be doing it now with profit to himself. But he would not give twenty-five shillings for a guinea, if he did not pay for it in a depreciated medium. Again, I ask, does he think it possible that he would give a guinea and four shillings for a guinea, or bank notes to that amount, if they were exchangeable for that sum?
From the observations of this writer we should be led to suppose, that gold being at a higher price on the Continent than it is here, we might obtain there for it 4l. 15s. or more per ounce; but we should be mistaken in forming such a conclusion. It is paid for there in a medium not depreciated, and is probably somewhere about 4l. per ounce. But a purchaser here at 4l. 10s. can afford to sell it there at that price; because by means of the low exchange, (caused by the depreciation), he can reimburse himself for the depreciation of 15 or 20 per cent. to which our currency has arrived.
It is contended, too, that all the effects on the Exchange, “which I attribute to the issue of bank notes, would equally be felt if there were not a single bank note in circulation.”
If our circulation were wholly carried on by specie, I believe it would be difficult for this writer to convince us, that the exchange might be 20 per cent. against us. What could induce any person owing 100l. in Hamburgh, to buy a bill here for that sum, giving 120l. for it, when the charges attending the exportation of the 100l. to pay his debt could not exceed 4l. or 5l.?
The severity of the law against the exportation of gold coin, prevents any one from openly selling bank-notes at a discount, not from any delicacy, as your correspondent supposes me to say, against doing an immoral or an unlawful act, but from the fear that as it is known that no one can purchase guineas but with a view to exportation, he would become an object of suspicion,—he would be watched and unable to effect his purpose. Repeal the law, and what can prevent an ounce of standard gold in guineas from selling at as good a price as an ounce of Portugal coin, when it is known to be rather superior to it in purity? And if an ounce of standard gold, in guineas, would sell in the market (as Portugal coin has lately done) at 4l. 13s. per oz. how long would a shopkeeper sell his goods at the same price either for gold or bank-notes indifferently? The penalties of the law, therefore, have degraded the few guineas in circulation to the value of the bank-notes, but send them abroad and they will purchase exactly what an equal quantity of Portugal coin will.
This is the temptation to their exportation, and operates the same as a demand from abroad. Our currency is already superfluous, and it is worse than useless to retain the guineas here. But diminish the currency by calling in the excess of bank-notes:—Make a partial void, as your correspondent justly observes was done in France and other countries, from the annihilation of their paper-credit, and what can prevent the effectual demand which would thereby be immediately created, from producing an importation of gold, and consequently a favorable exchange?
If our circulating medium has been augmented a fifth, till that fifth be withdrawn the prices of gold and commodities will remain as they are. Increase the quantity of notes, they will rise still higher; but withdraw the fifth, as I earnestly recommend, and gold and every other commodity will find its just level, and whilst the Bank continues to possess the confidence of the public, the representative of an ounce of gold, or 3l. 17s. 10½d. in bank-notes will always purchase an ounce of gold.
The hint thrown out of altering the mint price to the market price of gold, or, in other words, declaring that 3l. 17s. 10½d. in coin, shall pass for 4l. 13s. besides its shocking injustice would only aggravate the evil of which I complain. This violent remedy would raise the market price of gold 20 per cent. above the new mint price, and would further lower the value of bank-notes in the same proportion.
It has been shewn incontrovertibly by that able Writer, Dr. Adam Smith, that the rate of interest for money is regulated by the rate of profits on that part of capital only which does not consist of circulating medium, and that those profits are not regulated but are wholly independent of the greater or lesser quantity of money which may be employed for the purposes of circulation; that the increase of circulating medium will increase the prices of all commodities, but will not lower the rate of interest.
We must not, therefore, depend upon the criterion, namely, the rate of interest so strongly recommended by your correspondent, by which to judge of the issues of the Bank; because, if Dr. Smith’s reasoning be correct, if our circulating medium were ten times as great as it is, the rate of interest would not be permanently affected.
I think, Sir, I have succeeded in proving that my alarms are not altogether groundless, and that there does exist a great depreciation in our currency, affecting the interests of the public annuitant, and of those whose property consists in money, without any corresponding advantages. The evils attending a variable medium, as it affects all contracts, are too obvious to require to be noticed. The permanency of the value of the precious metals first recommended them as the general medium of exchange. That advantage is now lost to us, and we cannot consider our currency on a solid foundation till it be restored to the value of that of other countries.
By withdrawing a certain quantity of Bank of England notes from circulation it is supposed, by Mr. Cobbett, that their place would be immediately supplied by country banknotes. No such effect would, in my opinion, take place; on the contrary, I think such a measure would oblige the country-banks to call in at least as many, if not considerably more, of their notes.
A Bank of England note and a country bank note are now of equal value, and their quantities are proportioned to the business which they have to perform. By withdrawing Bank of England notes from circulation you increase their value and lower the prices of commodities in those places where they are current. A Bank of England note will then be more valuable than a country bank-note, because it will be wanted to purchase in the cheaper market; and as the country bank is obliged to give Bank of England notes in exchange for their own, they would be called upon for them till the quantity of country paper should be reduced to the same proportion which it before bore to the London paper, producing a corresponding fall of the prices of all commodities for which it was exchangeable.
A writer in The Pilot newspaper has been pleased to suppose, that a gentleman who has written in your paper under the signature of “Mercator,” has done so “in aid or in imitation of, or in conjunction and conspiracy with me.” The fact can of itself be of little importance. If his arguments or mine are weak, let him shew them to be so; but “No Trafficker” is mistaken.—The sentiments of “Mercator” are only known to me as they are to him, through the medium of The Morning Chronicle.
I am Sir, &c. R.