29 NOVEMBER 1968, Page 28

In the shadow of the crash


From L. H. Palmier, Geo. E. Assinder, C. C. Wrigley, Major-General H. T. Alexander, Onyekaba Nwankwo, the Rev Tom Garrett, David Russell, John Melvin, Patrick Hutber, Peter Paterson, Earl Miner, J. D. Jenkins, H. A. Taylor.

Sir: One can only applaud your avoidance of the fashionable puerility of ascribing our eco- nomic crises to 'the speculators' (gnomes hav- ing become gardenware), and your pinning the blame firmly on 'the real villains of the piece ... the international monetary authorities' with their fixation on immutable exchange rates (22 November). But your invaluable point is some- what blunted by preliminary indulgence in demonology : German reluctance to revalue is part of a sinister plan! In the SPECTATOR, this is surprising. Fot whatever the architects of Bretton Woods may have dreamt, experience has shown that countries only devalue when at the last ditch (Britain was there in November 1967, France has apparently not reached that point), and only revalue when politically con- venient—this is evidently not the case for Ger- many. Conspiratorial explanations are out of place when states act true to form.

Furthermore, to the outside observer it would seem that if so many countries wished to re- duce the exchange rate advantage of the mark, the remedy was at least as much in their own .4/Inds as in the Germans'; they could have de- valued collectively. That France, the principal present sufferer from the system of immutable exchange rates, has chosen not to devalue, must throw some doubt on the need and urgency for a German revaluation.

9 St Catherine's Close, Bath

L. H. Palmier