**** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE ****

Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!


High Finance
by [?]

Let us go slowly, and see if we can make any sense of it. Suppose that I produce something worth a shilling, something, that is, which I can sell in this country for a shilling–a blank verse tragedy, say. Let us suppose also that, having received the shilling, I propose to buy a bag of nuts. A German offers me a mark for my tragedy. Now that mark has got to be spent in Germany by somebody; not, of course, necessarily by me. I probably hand it to Thomas Cook or his Son, who gives it to somebody else, who eventually takes it back to Germany again. Obviously, then, what I have to consider, when I am offered a mark instead of the customary shilling for my blank verse, is this: “Can this mark purchase a similar-sized bag of nuts in Germany?” If the answer is “Yes,” then the mark is worth a shilling; if the answer is that it will only buy a bag of about a fifth of the English size, then the mark is worth tuppence-ha’penny.

Well, is everything in Germany five times as dear as it is in England? No. Not by any means. If a mark is regarded as tuppence-ha’penny, everything is extraordinarily cheap; much cheaper than in England. Also it occurs to me suddenly that if this were the way in which the pundits decided upon the price of the mark and the franc and the peseta and the cowrie-shell, then the price of living in every country would be exactly the same, and we should have nowhere to retire to when the taxes were too high. Which would be absurd. So we must have done the sum wrong. Let us try again.

The price of the mark (this is our new theory) depends on the amount of goods which Germany is exporting. A German offers me a mark for my tragedy, but if no other German has got anything to give me, or Thomas Cook or his Son, in exchange for that mark, then the mark is obviously no good to us. If, then, we say that the mark is worth tuppence- ha’penny, we mean that Germany is importing (or buying) five times as much as she is exporting (or selling). Similarly, when the rouble was about ten a penny, Russia was importing a hundred times as much as she was exporting. But she was not importing anything then because of the blockade. Therefore–no, it’s no good. You see, we can’t do it. We shall have to stand about on the Brighton road until one of those stockbrokers comes by. He will explain it to us.

But perhaps a better man to consult in these matters of High Finance is the Strong Man whom we see so often upon the stage. Sometimes he builds bridges, and sometimes he makes steel, but the one I like best is the one who controls the markets of the world. He strides to the telephone and says grimly down it: “Sell Chilled Tomatoes…. No…. Yes… Keep on selling,” and in far-away Nan-Kang-Foo a man shoots himself. He had too many Chilled Tomatoes–or too few.

But the Strong Man goes on his way. He is married to a young and beautiful girl, whom he has adored silently for years. He has never told her; partly because he thought it would not be fair to her, partly because he knows it would spoil the play. He is too busy to see much of her, but sometimes they meet at dinner, and then he strokes her head and asks her kindly what she is doing that evening. Probably she is going out with George B. Pusher. What else could you expect? All the time when Staunton is buying Tomatoes and Salmon and Tintacks and Locomotives and Peanuts and lots of things that he doesn’t really want, George B. Pusher is in attendance on the Heroine.

There is a terrible scene when Staunton discovers what is going on. Who is this puppy? George B. Pusher? That settles it. He will ruin Pusher.

He sells Tomatoes. Pusher hasn’t got any. He buys Raspberry Jam. Pusher doesn’t want any. Damn the fellow, he refuses to be ruined. Everybody is shooting himself except Pusher.

At last. Wire Netting! Why didn’t he think of Wire Netting before? He buys all the Wire Netting that there is. Then he sells it all. George R. Pusher is ruined. He comes round to beg for mercy.

Now, perhaps, if we listen very carefully, we shall understand how it is all done.