Front Page Titles (by Subject) section v: A practice which creates a great mass of mercantile inconvenience— Remedy proposed - The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo, Vol. 4 Pamphlets and Papers 1815-1823
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section v: A practice which creates a great mass of mercantile inconvenience— Remedy proposed - David Ricardo, The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo, Vol. 4 Pamphlets and Papers 1815-1823 
The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo, ed. Piero Sraffa with the Collaboration of M.H. Dobb (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2005). Vol. 4 Pamphlets and Papers 1815-1823.
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First published by Cambridge University Press in 1951. Copyright 1951, 1952, 1955, 1973 by the Royal Economic Society. This edition of The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo is published by Liberty Fund, Inc., under license from the Royal Economic Society.
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A practice which creates a great mass of mercantile inconvenience— Remedy proposed
After all the improvements however that can be made in our system of currency, there will yet be a temporary inconvenience, to which the public will be subject, as they have hitherto been, from the large quarterly payment of dividends to the public creditors;—an inconvenience which is often severely felt; and to which I think an easy remedy might be applied.
The national debt has become so large, and the interest which is paid quarterly upon it is so great a sum, that the mere collecting the money from the receivers general of the taxes, and the consequent reduction of the quantity in circulation, just previously to its being paid to the public creditor, in January, April, July, and October, occasions, for a week or more, the most distressing want of circulating medium. The Bank, by judicious management, discounting bills probably very freely, just at the time that these monies are paid into the Exchequer, and arranging for the receipt of large sums, immediately after the payment of the dividends, have, no doubt, considerably lessened the inconvenience to the mercantile part of the community. Nevertheless, it is well known to those who are acquainted with the money market that the distress for money is extreme at the periods I have mentioned. Exchequer bills, which usually sell at a premium of five shillings per 100l. are at such times at so great a discount, that by the purchase of them then, and the re-sale when the dividends are paid, a profit may often be made equal to the rate of fifteen to twenty per cent. interest for money. At these times, too, the difference between the price of stock for ready money, and the price for a week or two to come, affords a profit, to those who can advance money, even greater than can be made by employing money in the purchase of exchequer bills. This great distress for money is frequently, after the dividends are paid, followed by as great a plenty, so that little use can for some time be made of it.
The very great perfection to which our system of economizing the use of money has arrived, by the various operations of banking, rather aggravates the peculiar evil of which I am speaking; because, when the quantity of circulation is reduced, in consequence of the improvements which have been adopted in the means of effecting our payments, the abstraction of a million or two from that reduced circulation becomes much more serious in its effects, being so much larger a proportion of the whole circulation.
On the inconvenience to which trade and commerce are exposed by this periodical distress for money, I should think no difference of opinion can possibly exist. The same unanimity may not prevail with respect to the remedy which I shall now propose.
Let the Bank be authorised by government to deliver the dividend warrants to the proprietors of stock a few days before the receivers-general are required to pay their balances into the Exchequer.
Let these warrants be payable to the bearer exactly in the same manner as they now are.
Let the day for the payment of these dividend warrants in bank notes be regulated precisely as it now is.
If the day of payment could be named on or before the delivery of the warrants, it would be more convenient.
Finally, let these warrants be receivable into the Exchequer from the receivers general, or from any other person who may have payments to make there, in the same manner as bank notes; the persons paying them allowing the discount for the number of days which will elapse before they become due.
If a plan of this sort were adopted there could never be any particular scarcity of money before the payment of the dividends, nor any particular plenty of it after. The quantity of money in circulation would be neither increased nor diminished by the payment of the dividends. A great part of these warrants would, from the stimulus of private interest, infallibly find their way into the hands of those who had public payments to make, and from them to the Exchequer. Thus then would a great part of the payments to government, and the payments from government to the public creditor, be effected without the intervention of either bank notes or money; and the demands for money for such purposes, which are now so severely felt by the mercantile classes, would be effectually prevented.
Those who are well acquainted with the economical system, now adopted in London, throughout the whole banking concern, will readily understand that the plan here proposed is merely the extension of this economical system to a species of payments to which it has not yet been applied. To them it will be unnecessary to say any thing further in recommendation of a plan, with the advantages of which, in other concerns, they are already so familiar.