The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 5, Issue 8 (February 1, 1931)
Imperial Conference and Tariffs—Snowden on Quantity Markets—Eyes on India—and on South America—Russia Shakes Wheat World—U.S. Farm Board Bull Buyer.
Those people who hoped for an extended use of tariffs as a means of promoting intra-Imperial trade are of course disappointed with the Imperial Conference.
Some of them, however, value the under-standing said to have been arrived at to the effect that existing tariff preferences shall not be withdrawn before the expiry of their agreed currencies. Since the conference concluded there has been some debate as to the exact terms of this under-standing, but average opinion holds that if the Conference made no advance on the tariff front, it at any rate checked the early scrapping of preferences and the threatened retreat from Singapore. Mr. Philip Snowden was an unrelenting line umpire. As soon as his flag went up for out-of-bounds, the ball was dead.
The Turnover Test.
Mr. Snowden, who is Chancellor of the Exchequer, considers that taxes on food and on essential raw material are too big a price for Britain to pay for bigger Dominions trade, to the detriment of other trade. He is impressed with quantity (as against quality) markets, and he made this clear in a notable speech to Imperial Conference delegates on 23rd November. High-tariff, low-populated Australia has not (for him) the possibilities of low-tariff, highly-populated India. The comparatively few people of high purchasing power in Australia, even if they were able to buy a few more British goods than they buy now, would contribute a mere drop in the bucket compared with what British trade would gain if the low purchasing power of India's many millions could be even fractionally raised. Mr. Snowden, when looking for customers for British goods, thinks in terms of population and turnover, and would raise the buying power of low standard countries.
Without attempting to enter into political controversy, it is well to understand this argument of the Labour freetrade stalwart. Within the British Empire, it has its expression in India. Outside the British Empire, South America illustrates the case as well as any other country. With Argentina, for instance, the British Labour Government made a conditional agreement (not yet completed) last year. According to the published outline, Argentina was to favour certain British goods by means of “bulk purchases” (a device that made fitful appearances in the Imperial Conference page 14 communiques) and by customs preferment on certain conditions. One of the conditions, it appeared, was an undertaking by the British Government not to exclude Argentine meats and grains from any customs preference thereafter to be granted by Britain. A rather significant British cablegram of 12th November announced on the authority of the British Foreign Office that this agreement awaits the approval of the Argentine Senate.
Men Go, Mortgages Remain.
Meanwhile, South America has been beset by political disturbances in several places, and a President in Argentina and a Government in Brazil have disappeared. The deposed President of Argentina is the same Trigoyen as figured prominently in the negotiations with Lord d'Abernon last year, resulting in the above-mentioned trade agreement with Britain. The President is gone—long live the President! When the Prince of Wales makes his South American tour (down the West Coast via Chile, and back via Argentina and Brazil) he will not see the Argentine President and the Brazilian Government he would have seen in 1930. But no doubt the wheels will still be going round, and Britain's interest in the huge South American market will not be diminished, nor will the importance have dwindled of Britain's huge capital investment in Argentina. The Prince of Wales is not the only prospective South American tourist. Recollections of Col. Lindbergh's “good will” flight are aroused by New York's report (21st November) that he will soon leave on a 22,000 mile air tour extending to Cape Horn.
The Russian Mystery.
These South American comings and goings are a reminder that there are vast continental trade-units which are beyond the orbit of Empire and which Empire policy cannot ignore. South America is one. Russia is another. Somehow, not much is known about economic Russia. In some quarters it is pictured as a land of famine, but suddenly one wakes up to find that the land of famine is shaking the wheat markets of the world. Are millions of people going hungry in Russia to permit the export of millions of bushels of wheat to upset Chicago, or has Russian agriculture got its costs down and its organisation up? This has certainly not been achieved by wheat growers in the United States, Canada, and Australia, who are clamouring for help. Tentatively, “bulk purchases” and a quota system have been discussed. But the wheat-growers want a cash guarantee of payable prices. And the United States Farm Board is reported to be buying wheat heavily to hold the market up.
So big a part is taken now by the United States in the economic and political events of the world, that the Congressional elections, though they did not include the fight for the Presidency, must be considered a world-event. Depression inevitably meant a swing towards the Democratic party, but it was hardly expected that in 1930 the Democrats would have won practical equality with the Republicans in both House and Senate. However, this has happened, and the two great parties now divide the responsibility of facing the slump. They seem to know of nothing better than raising as much public money as possible to provide work for the more than four million unemployed. But the American colossus has at last reached the stage already experienced in other countries—the stage at which depression cuts revenues and thus cuts at the sources from which relief work issues. The simple plan of taxing yourself out of trouble might work if the trouble had not already undermined taxable wealth.
Budgetitis Even In U.S.
It seems to be only the other day when an overflowing United States Treasury was making refunds to taxpayers. Therefore the anticipation that the Federal Budget cannot be balanced comes as a shock. The British Minister for Dominions, Mr. J. H. Thomas, said on page 15 18th November that America was “up against it” as she had never been before, over-production having synchronised with under-consumption. He added: “Russia, India, and China, with 47 per cent. of the world's population, are separated from the rest of the world and are neither producers nor consumers.” Observe in this sentence the parallel with the Snowden idea. Sixty per cent. of the worlds’ gold is held by the United States and France, the former having 900 millions, France 400 millions—which fact, says Lord d'Abernon, may be among the main causes of the trade crisis.
New Additions to the Locomotive Fleet on the N.Z.R.
Designed for use for shunting operations or suburban train haulage two engines of the “C” class as illustrated above have recently been built and put into commission by the Railways Department. They are the first of an order for 24 which are to be built at the Hutt Valley and Hillside Workshops. These engines are of the 2-6-2 type with double bogie tenders whose tanks slope downward and backward. The cylinders have a diameter of 14ins. with a 22in. stroke. The driving wheels have a diameter of 3ft. 9ins., and the tractive effort is 13,798lbs. The boiler pressure is 180lbs. to the sq. in., and the tender carries 2,000 gals, of water and four tons of coal. The engines are superheated and fitted with combined multiple valve throttles. The weight of the engine and tender, in working order, is 66 ¼ tons.
“If railway traffic were half as devasting to life and limb as is modern road transport, we should soon have an agitation for forcing all railway tracks underground, and for making the railway companies pay for it.”—
Surrey Comet.page 16