THE CAUSES OF DEPRESSION IN TRADE.
ITO TEE EDITOR OF THE " SPECTATOIL."]
STR,—There seems to me to be one cause which, so far as it affects this country at any rate, has been overlooked by the recent Commission, and also in the discussion arising from the report recently issued by them, which deserves serious attention, and that is the spirit of " gambling " which pervades all the great exchanges of our country. I care not which you take —London, Liverpool, or Glasgow—the time and energy of a vast number of those frequenting these various markets is directed to mere "speculation," and not to the old-fashioned business of trading legitimately in the articles represented by their transactions. The " cotton " market, the " provision " market, the " corn " market, and the " produce " market of Liverpool are all, more or less, now simply gambling-houses, and the disastrous effect is not only felt by those who engage in them, but also by those who, being legitimate dealers or manufacturers, find all their calculations as to the usual laws of supply and demand frustrated by some "corner," and themselves landed in heavy loss, which cannot but be detrimental to a vast number of operatives who, of course, are employed by those who are legitimate manu- facturers, &c. It seems the fashion now in Liverpool for young men to start business either in "produce," "cotton," "corn," or "provisions," who look out only for clients who will enter into speculations in the various articles in the same manner as stocks and shares 'on the Stock Exchange, never manufacturing the articles in question, but simply settling differences, &c. Now, if the same energy was only shown in finding out the wants of our Colonies, or of foreign countries, and meeting them, I do not hesitate to say that we should not now complain of a decline in our export trade, aud of being cut out by the Germans, &c. We have had during recent years in this town many instances of men and firms engaged in all these trades of great ability, but who have been drawn into the exciting vortex alluded to, and who, with the same energy directed to legitimate commerce, would have found themselves in a very different position to what they now are in, and with considerable benefit to the community.
I feel convinced that if this matter were more gone into, it would be found a very fruitful cause of the existing depression and decline of some of our industries, and one deserving of as serious attention as the nostrums of "monometallism," "Fair- trade," "foreign competition," &c. To use your own words in the able article in your issue of August 28th,—" It is the brain that wins in modern industry ;" but I venture to assert that the brain should be directed by Englishmen with "all their ancient strength, energy, and perseverance" in the legitimate paths of manufactures and commerce, and not in mere Stock-Exchange