HC Deb 08 July 1920 vol 131 cc1651-2

asked the Prime Minister whether his attention has been drawn to a statement made by the American comptroller of currency that $35,000,000,000, or more than three times the total banking power of the whole world in 1890, belongs to the United States of America; that the banking power of the United States of America has grown more in the last seven years than in the entire century and a quarter which elapsed from 1789 down to 1913; that that country has been swiftly transformed from a debtor nation, owing to the rset of the world, as it did in 1914, some $4,000,000,000 or $5,000,000,000, into the world's greatest creditor; that the total reserves of the national banks of the leading countries in the world, including the Bank of England, the Bank of France, the Bank of Italy, and the national banks of Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland, Rumania, Japan, Germany, and Austria-Hungary, aggregate at the normal rates of exchange approximately $51,000,000,000, but at the present rate of exchange are worth, in American money, less than $12,000,000,000. which is about one-half of the reserves of the great national banks of the United States of America alone, exclusive of the reserves of their federal reserve banks; and whether the Government are keeping these facts in mind in shaping their national and international policies?


The figures quoted by the hon. Member do not correspond very closely with those that I have seen, nor does a comparison between the national banks of the United States of America and the national banks of other countries named seem to me very instructive, as the institutions, though described by the same name, are very different in character. As regards the last part of the question, the Government endeavour to keep all pertinent facts in mind in framing their financial policy. Perhaps I may be allowed to add that, whilst not accepting the comparison suggesed in the question, we can afford to view, not only without jealousy but with satisfaction, the growth and improvement of banking in other countries.


The statement was made at Bangor, Maine, on the 26th of last month, by Mr. J. Skelton Williams, and was reported in the London "Observer" on the following day.

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