The pound and the dollar

27 September 2019

September 26th, 1919.

AMERICANS, if they are not always elegant in their expressions, are often terse and forcible. To our bitter complaint that the American Exchange is against us, that the English sovereign is worth less than seven half-crowns in the United States, the answer has been returned, “Get busy.” The advice is excellent. We shall not restore a parity of currency by resorting to temporary expedients and palliatives, still less by lamenting the present state of things: we must get busy, and especially strain every nerve to supply our domestic needs ourselves, so far as is possible. Are we doing so? Have we shaken off war-weariness? Is the present craving for pleasure and excitement to become the standardized attitude of the English mind? Is extravagance to be the habitual mode? If so, we shall never get busy, but, if we do not, the pound sterling will mean less and less in terms of American dollars. Those, however, who are eager to get to work, to seize new openings for enterprise, to develop old businesses and to start fresh ones, are hampered at every turn. They cannot be sure that, if they venture to launch out, all their plans will not be frustrated by labour troubles. For no sooner is one strike settled on terms that are more or less ruinous, than a strike breaks out in some other quarter, followed by the threat of direct action and a general holding-up of all trade.


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