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added to prevent coagulation. The Rubber Growers' Association is experimenting with other anti-coagulants, with the object of establishing a standard-method of shipping the material.
Latex seems to possess great industrial possibilities. Besides its employment in the paper industry, it is used for impregnating cloth, cord tyre and other fabrics, as well as yarns, including fishing-nets. A cold process for vulcanising it is said to have been discovered. In the East, latex is also made into rubber snow, which is pressed into blocks. This is done by delivering the latex on to a disc revolving at a high speed in a chamber with a constant current of warm air, the rubber being sprayed off in the form of small particles, or snow."
In a recent issue of the Bulletin of the Rubber Growers' Association a quite new process of treating latex is described. Up to the present the material has been concentrated either mechanically, by centrifugation or filtration, or by " creaming up,' or, again, by evaporation, none of these methods being perfect. By the new process the freshly-collected latex is strained, treated with a preservative, stored in large vessels, and evaporated after the addition of an anti-coagulant. The paste, which contains from 20 to 30 per cent. of water, is then cooled and shipped in paraffin-coated cases. It is claimed that in this form rubber can be placed upon the market at a much lower cost than when turned into crêpe or smoked sheet. Its industrial applications are in coating woven fabrics, the manufacture of dipped goods, impregnating yarn and thread, and the production of ready-made goods by electro-deposition on clay forms.
It is stated that the Rubber Growers' Association spends £50,000 a year in propaganda. Of this amount, £10,000 goes towards the extension of existing uses of rubber, such as flooring, footwear and sponge rubber; £10,000 on the promotion of new uses, including experimental work with rubber in mining and engineering, the development of the latex trade, etc., and substantial sums in the popularisation of crêpe rubber soles.
Since the restriction policy came into force, the dividends of the leading Malayan companies have fluctuated considerably, but, upon the whole, the trade has prospered. For the first restriction year these companies distributed from 6 to 12 per cent.; in the second year they did about equally well; for 1925, the latest "boom year, their lowest dividend was 20 per cent., and the
highest 66 per cent. The returns for 1926 do not quite reach the same degree of prosperity, yet the results, to say the least, do not point to a state of distress. In these circumstances the disinterested observer may well ask whether it is necessary to maintain what is economically an objectionable form of State control, and whether financially strong and well-managed undertakings would not, in the long run, be in a sounder position if they were free to market their product to the full extent of their capacity and thereby lower their cost of production.
The companies themselves seem to be in no hurry to cast off control. At recent annual meetings, one chairman after another has blessed it. Naturally, they look at the problem as it affects the immediate interests of their shareholders rather than from the point of view of the student of political economy. Yet it is reasonable to assume that if rubber, which is now worth about 1/7 per lb., and can be produced at an "all in" cost of, say, from 7d. to 9 d. per lb., were to fall to its natural level, consumption would be stimulated at least as much as it can be by propaganda under the present conditions. Moreover, there is the danger of an increase in the output of the Dutch Indies, which is already "perilously approaching" that of Malaya. But, whatever the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the planters and the shareholders may think, people who still believe in the maxim that "consumption is the sole end and purpose of all production, and the interest of the producer ought to be attended to, only so far as may be necessary for promoting that of the consumer," must disapprove of this particular example of State control.
A. C. MEYJES
AMERICAN PROSPERITY AND BRITISH
The Present Economic Revolution in the United States.
By T. N.
Wages in U.S.A. BY THE NATIONAL INDUSTRIAL CONFERENCE BOARD.
America Comes of Age.
By HENRY FORD and HENRY CROWTHER. 1926.
By ANDRÉ SIEGFRIED. Jonathan Cape. 1927.
The Secret of High Wages. By BERTRAM AUSTIN and W. FRANCIS
6. Industrial Conditions in Canada and the United States of America. By the OFFICIAL BRITISH DELEGATION. 1927.
WICE a year a conference meets at Balliol College, Oxford, to consider problems of interest to directors, works' managers and foremen. These gatherings, at which 80 to 100 persons attend, have recently given a large place to discussion of the future of British industry. It is a significant fact that in the last two years, on an average, two out of five leaders of industry, asked to speak, were unable to come because they were preparing to go to the United States, or were there, or had just returned. A sort of hejira has begun on the part of British business men. Singly, or in groups, they are crossing the ocean in the hope of learning the secrets of efficiency and prosperity.
Evidence of the prosperity of America is abundant. The country's financial position reflects it. Tax reduction is almost an established principle with the United States Treasury. In February, 1926, reductions were made of £77,000,000 per annum, yet the Treasury surplus in June, 1926, was £75,500,000. An even larger surplus was realized for the fiscal year ending in June 1927, and the President has recommended a further reduction in taxation.
Business conditions during the post-war years have been in startling contrast with those prevailing in Great Britain. Except for a short but severe "slump" in 1920 and 1921, the United States of America have experienced a level of prosperity scarcely affected by a pronounced turn in trade three years ago. Something like the "economic revolution," which supplies the title to
Professor Carver's book, is happening. The American people have attained a degree of economic welfare greater and more generally diffused than industrial history records. The average man has not only command of the necessities of life, but is able to enjoy a large proportion of its luxuries. He can purchase a greater quantity of the good things of life than his fellow-worker in any other country. His money earnings in comparable occupations are approximately two and a half times those in this country, while his real wages are, on an average, about 70 per cent. higher.
The most casual inquiry shows that these high wages are the outstanding feature of the American "industrial revolution." America has always been a high-wage country, but before the war it was a land where the cost of living also was high. To-day, the position is somewhat different. The factors which have raised wages have at the same time lowered living costs. The generous production of goods has kept prices down even when purchasing power has been increasing. A study of the tables in "Wages in the United States " will reveal that, in the years of depression, the index of actual weekly earnings for male unskilled labour in a representative group of American industries fell from 258 at the peak to 181 at the bottom-cost of living falling from 202 to 163 in the same period. From the fourth quarter of 1921, when the lowest figures occurred, weekly earnings began to rise consistently till they had reached an index of 226 at the end of the first quarter of 1926. Cost of living, however, remained below 163 points on an average for three years, and only in 1925 did it begin to show a slight upward tendency and succeed for that year in keeping pace with the increase in wages. The worker retained, however, the whole advance of the three years 1922-4, and is to-day better off in the industries in question than before the war by roughly 30 per cent.
High wages are admittedly a powerful incentive to increased effort and productivity. They spell independence, which is the American synonym for the security so greatly desiderated by the British workman. They leave an ample margin for savings. That this is so, and that advantage is taken of the opportunity to save is demonstrated by the great advance in the deposits of ordinary savings banks, labour banks and insurance societies. The total savings deposits in the country have considerably more VOL. 246. NO. 501.
than doubled in the last ten years, the number of depositors has more than trebled, and the savings per head of the population increased slightly more than two-fold. General insurance business has advanced greatly, but companies specialising in industrial insurance have had an almost phenomenal growth, and trade unions have themselves entered the insurance field. The method of group insurance enables a workman to obtain a life policy of from $1,000 to $1,500; and, if he takes it out through his union, to retain it, whatever the vicissitudes of his employment. Employee ownership of corporation stock has increased greatly. Professor Carver maintains that ownership of industry is shifting from the wealthy few to the workers and to the management class. No authoritative total figures which would measure the extent of this transfer have been secured, but the experience of over a hundred of the leading industrial and public utility corporations is available. This shows that an average of 22 per cent. of the employees of the larger companies have become stock-holders.*
But the most romantic story of savings is that connected with the rise of labour banks. In the slump year 1920, a small machine shop employer in the neighbourhood of Washington, D.C., was in financial difficulty. He was a believer in trade unionism, and was in friendly relations with the Machinists' Union. His competitors were open-shop" people, who hoped that his difficulties would drive him out of production. Unable to obtain assistance through orthodox channels, he thought of the Machinists' Union which, he anticipated, would have accumulated funds. He approached them on the grounds that the support he had given them justified some assistance in his difficulty. The union gave it, and thus began Labour's first venture into banking business. The Mount Vernon Savings Bank, Washington, D.C., sprang from this action, and was the first of the group of Labour banks that greet the eye in every large industrial city in America. So fast are they being established that no figures of their number or of their deposits can be accurate. Let it suffice to say that the bank named above, which started in 1920 with a capital of $160,000, had deposits aggregating $4,237,408 on June 30, 1926, and that the increase in deposits between 1925 and 1926 was
*See Carver," The Present Economic Revolution in the United
States," p. 99.