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SHOWING THE APPROXIMATE AMOUNTS OF GOLD AND OF GOLD AND SILVE THE TOTAL VOLUME OF PAPER MONEY IN EUROPE

For full explanation

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SILVER USED AS MONEY, THE ANNUAL INTEREST ON FUNDED DEBTS, AND UROPE AND NORTH AMERICA EACH YEAR SINCE 1845. lanation see page 127.

3,300 3,200

Aggregate of Gold and sixer used/as Manef

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CHANGES IN THE VALUES OF THE PRECIOUS METALS, AND THEIR EFFECTS ON PRICES

OF COMMODITIES.

JUST

UST at present the commercial and financial world

is perplexed with the causes of what is called the “low price of silver.” Many are disposed to refer this almost wholly to the increase in the production of the metal; others more largely to the demonetization of silver in Germany; and still others claim that the decline in the value of silver, while it has been greatly increased by the above mentioned causes, was primarily an erroneous expression for a rise in the value of gold, this rise being shown not only in the decline in the gold price of silver, but of all commodities.

One of the most indisputable facts in connection with the vast increase in the production of gold from 1849 to 1854–5 was that it caused a general “rise of prices.” I have made comparisons of the prices of a number of staple commodities in New York city in 1845 with those in 1854, and find that the average rise in that period was over 50 per cent (see tables of prices at the end of the book). This rise has been by some attributed to changes in the tariff, an assumption which I think is to a large extent erroneous. Aside from this there was no other feature of that period to which the rise could be attributed than the increase in the stock of gold in the world used as money. Professor Jevons compared the average of prices in 1849 with the average in 1865,

and concluded there had been a rise of about 21 per cent, and his opinion was that the real permanent rise due to the increase of gold was about 21 per cent. I do not see how it is possible to avoid the conclusion, after investigation, that this estimate of the rise of prices was too low, and I have prepared the following table of average prices of thirteen leading articles in New York city either about the end of December, or in the first weeks of January following, in each one of three years of each period. Thus, the average price of a ton of iron in the winters of 1845–6–7 was $36; in the three winters of 1854–5–6 it was $33; in the three winters of 1873-4-5 it was $28. Coal and iron were the only exceptions to the general rise of prices. But even including these, the general rise of prices in the period 1854–6 over 1845–7 was 58 per cent.

AVERAGE PRICES OF LEADING ARTICLES AT THREE PERIODS (IN

NEW YORK CITY).

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