19 MAY 1923, Page 26


Among the favourable features of the past week must be mentioned the continued response given by investors to new issues of capital. In several instances recent flotations of prior charge capital issues by industrial concerns have been very quickly absorbed and there is little doubt that after Whitsuntide we shall see a good many more of these flotations. In none of the prospective issues, however, is there greater interest than in the impending flotation of the Austrian loan, which is expected during the early days of June. The interest in that loan may be said to be threefold in character. In the first place, it will be an attractive issue of its kind having regard to the guarantees behind it ; in the second place, it will be a test of the ability of several of the foreign markets to absorb issues of that class ; while most important of all it will be aloan designed to aid the financial rehabilitation of Austria, upon which event the rehabili- tation of other Central European countries may con- ceivably depend. Recent advises concerning financial and economic progress in Austria have been most encouraging. * * * * I notice that scant attention seems to have been given by the Press as a whole to what is one of the many serious results of the separation of Southern Ireland from the United Kingdom, namely, the hopeless confusion intro- duced into the statistics of our foreign trade. For the first time in the history of the United Kingdom the Board of Trade Returns for April exclude all the direct foreign trade of the Irish Free State, that is of Southern Ireland, while they include the trade of Great Britain and Northern Ireland with the Irish Free State. The net result, of course, is materially to invalidate all questions of com- parison between our Import and Export figures for some time to come. Subject to a recognition of this great modification the figures of our trade for April were moderately encouraging, the value of Exports expanding by over £10,000,000 and Imports by nearly £6,000,000. Quite the most interesting feature was the enormous shipments from this country of coal to Germany, their value being about ten times that of the same month of last year. An unfavourable feature of the figures for the first four months of the year is that they show the excess of Imports over Exports to be £70,000,000, whereas a year ago it was only about £25,000,000.

Those most conversant with the difficult problems which Insurance companies, and especially those whose operations extend to foreign fields, have had to contend with during recent years will, I think, appreciate the manner in which those problems have been faced by the present General Manager of the Liverpool and London and Globe Insurance Company, Mr. Hugh Lewis, during the past year or two. Indeed, at the annual meeting, which was held last week, the Chairman of the company paid a very high tribute to the success that has attended his labours during the two years in which he has held office. As in the case of other companies, Marine results for the year are unsatisfactory, but in other departments there has been good progress, and especially in the Life Depart- ment, where the volume of business was double that of any pre-War year, and with the exception of 1919 and 1920 was the best in the history of the company. A. W. K.