2 JANUARY 1932, Page 34


How security prices will fare after the conference will be dependent largely on the attitude adopted by the participants, and the ultimate reaction of public opinion in the countries concerned, particularly, perhaps, in France and the United States, to the warning issued by the Young Plan Committee on the critical character of the present situation and the urgent need for a restoration of confidence. The course of events seems already to be shaping towards a radical adjustment of Reparations and War debts, and this provides the best ground for hope at the present time. It is nevertheless necessary, in order to obtain a fair view of the investment outlook, to remember that although the international debt position may be the most important obstacle to financial recovery and trade improvement, it is by no means the only incubus which the business world has to carry at the present time. There are, unfortunately, a number of other impediments to full recovery, some of them linked, either directly or indirectly, with the repar- ations question itself. One such is the heavy liability of Germany under the " standstill " agreement, which is still the subject of a bankers' conference in Berlin. Apart altogether from the question of German finance, however, the virtual breakdown of the gold standard, abnormally low commodity prices, stringent trade and exchange restrictions in the major countries of the world, and the maladjustments caused by post-War development of manufacturing industries in formerly agricultural coun- tries, are among the factors to be reckoned with when the year's outlook is being considered.