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CHAPTER II.: preliminary observations on the rise of prices which has characterised the last few years. - Michel Chevalier, On the Probable Fall in the Value of Gold: The Commercial and Social Consequences which may ensue, and the Measures which it invites 
On the Probable Fall in the Value of Gold: The Commercial and Social Consequences which may ensue, and the Measures which it invites. Translated from the French, with preface, by Richard Cobden, Esq. (New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1859).
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preliminary observations on the rise of prices which has characterised the last few years.
Before entering upon the consideration of the mode in which the new gold discoveries must be considerd as the probable cause of the general rise of prices, in the countries where gold is by law or practice the monetary standard, it may not be out of place to say a few words in order to avert a possible confusion. This dearness is not a fact appertaining to a future more or less distant; the present time is characterised by an all but universal rise of prices, at least it has been so up to the reaction which dates from the close of 1857. There are few productions which had not risen in price during the last five or six years. Even after the violent crisis which shook the four quarters of the globe, the high prices of several articles are still sustained. Many persons have not hesitated to attribute this unyielding rise to the influence of the new gold mines. I do not deny that the unusual production of this metal may have been in part the cause; but other causes may be mentioned which have weighed considerably in the scale.
Speaking of a great number of productions of the first necessity, of the raw materials of industry, and consequently of manufactured articles, especially of those upon which the price of the raw material exercises the greatest influence—they are in general the commonest qualities— we may trace a rise in price quite distinct from that which could have arisen from an increased production of gold. It arises from the fact that, in the case of these raw materials or manufactures, the relation between the supply and demand in the market, which necessarily decides the price, has undergone a great change. The demand having surpassed the supply, the consumer has found himself placed at the great disadvantage of being obliged to buy in a dearer market. This rise in prices, special and distinct in its origin, must be attributed to causes which in their effects at least, if not in their very nature, are transitory.
In the first place it may be traced to the fact that various classes of society have indulged in an increased consumption, either from their having greater resources, or from their habits of economy having undergone an unfavourable change. In France a great number of persons have been enriched by the immense rise in the value of railway shares, and they have set an example of extravagance which has not wanted imitators. As respects the working classes, the impulse given to public works, and to various industrial undertakings, has caused an extraordinary demand for their labour, and the consequent increase in their wages has enabled them to consume a greater quantity of certain articles of subsistence, and of those manufactured products which are most accessible to the masses of mankind. One of the effects traceable to this cause is the high price of butcher's meat which we have lately witnessed in France.
In the next place the moderate, not to say the inferior harvests, have in later years been a sufficient reason for the high price of many articles. Bread and wine have risen because of the scarcity of corn, and of the disease which has ravaged our vineyards. The rise in bread has produced a similar effect upon other articles of ordinary subsistence. A raw material, in great use among the manufacturers of Europe, silk, is one of the objects which have undergone the greatest advance; and this also has arisen from a failure of the crop in the Western World. This has been sufficient to account for the high price of the woven fabrics, for the cost of the raw material is a principal, if not the very first element, in the price of silk goods.
Moreover, it cannot be doubted that a spirit of wild speculation has spread itself more or less throughout the commercial world, and that this has not been without its effect upon the prices of some commodities.
I only allude to these circumstances lest we should confound the effects, which must be regarded as accidental and transient, with the results produced by the new discoveries of gold.
In the following pages, I shall generally reason as if these new gold mines had not yet produced any appreciable effect. I trust I shall not be blamed for this reserve. It strikes me that it will not weaken the conclusion to which this work will lead,—but have a contrary effect.
an appeal to some of the fundamental notions upon the nature and characteristics of money.