24 JANUARY 1936, Page 38

Martins Bank


ALTHOUGH a considerable proportion of the operations of Martins Bank are carried on in localities which have suffered in special degree from the depression in the shipping and textile industry, the Chairman, Mr. E. B. Orme, at the recent meeting of shareholders, was able not only to report a moderate increase in profits for the past year, but was on the whole able to strike a hopeful note with regard to the general trade outlook. In commenting upon • a slight decrease under the head of Advances, Mr. Orme drew attention to some of the influences affecting bankers' advances at the present time. Two of these are well worth consideration. One of the explanations of the extreme cheapness of money is to be found in the heavy' decline in employment 'of money in' oversea trade by British finance houses and other institutions. This, in its turn, has enabled large funds hitherto-• actively engaged in foreign services to be set free to compete with the resources of the banks. Another and happier explanation of the movements in banking advances is, of course, to be found in the fact that, -owing to improved trade conditions a number of outstanding loans which had come to be regarded as frozen assets have now been liquidated, and these repayments have tended to offset the effect which would have been produced by new business. Moreover, another circumstance which must have affected bankers' advances is _ the fact that the cheapness of money has enabled many Corporations and large Industrial companies whose practice was to obtain finance by means of tem- ..

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(Continued from page 150.) _ porary borrowing to replace that method by cheap, permanent, capital. At the same time, it may fairly he hoped that expanding- trade, helped by cheap money and the expected increase in Government spending, may finally stimulate demands for banking loans.


Indeed, notwithstanding the circumstances re- sponsible for a curtailment of loan requirements from the banks, Mr. Orme was by no means pessimistic with regard to the outlook. Even as regards cotton, although the industry has for some time past failed to make the usual demands for bankers' loans, Mr. Orme discovered some encouraging signs. At the moment, he said, " there -is distinct improvement, and prospects are brighter than they have been for several years. Co- operation within the industry is required, and, with this in evidence, we are justified in looking for better times." In the wool trade there has, of course, been considerable activity.

Indeed, as regards internal conditions, Mr. Orme took a hopeful view, always assuming the absence of some mad' act, plunging us into external political strife or industrial turmoil at home, such as that threatened in the coal industry. I would like, he said, " to emphasise that the improvement we are witnessing in home affairs, including as it does the gradual decline in unemployment, is not due to any fortuitous change of circumstances, but is the result of steady, well-thought-out planning over a considerable period, and it is inconceivable that we should do anything to jeopardise the fruits of those labours."


On the question of world trade conditions, Mr. Orme's observations were of particular interest, and he had some strong things to say with regard to economic nationalism. Recognising that the leading idea of nations at the moment seems to be that of strengthening their own economic position, Mr. Orme declared that " the doctrine of self-sufficiency cannot be continued indefinitely." And then, enlarging upon the point, he said : " If countries which are favourably situated for the production of primary products, formerly exchanged for the manufactured goods of countries best able to produce those goods, adopt a manufacturing Policy themselves, and manufacturing countries, by various means, foster uneconomic development of their agricultural industries, we shall, sooner or later, -arrive at a position of stalemate so far as world trade is con- cerned, for world trade consists of the exchange of goods."


In common with Mr. Favill Tuke, of Barclays Bank, and, I imagine, with some othei bankers who have yet to speak, Mr. Orme then expressed his belief that permanent world recovery would have to come along the lines of a general stabilisation of currencies. He fully recognised the many difficulties in the way of obtaining this stabilisation, but he is evidently of the opinion that immediate attention should be con- centrated upon the solution of this difficulty which is obstracting international trade and, therefore, inter- national recovery. The point of view, he said, " that this country is not doing so badly under existing con- ditions, and that any approach to stabilisation on our part should be made with caution, may reasonably be advanced, but this should not deter us from taking our part, and a leading part, in a general endeavour to adjust disordered conditions throughout the world."