Full text: Borrowing and business in Australia

the margin between the value of exports and the liability for 
interest was becoming narrower through the operation of the 
price-level even by 1890, since a diminution of prosperity equal 
to £4 per head of the population had occurred, a decline that 
was sufficiently serious without the intervention of other factors. 
Examination of the figures presented with this chapter shows 
clearly that neither the growth of population nor the expansion 
of production kept pace with the increase in indebtedness. The 
amount of the debt and the annual liability for interest are 
the two aspects still necessary to conclude the survey. Coghlan 
estimates that, by 1890, the total private payment of interest 
abroad for New South Wales alone amounted to not less than 
£2.75 millions, in addition to £1-75 millions on the public debt 
or £4-5 millions in all.l If £2-75 millions represented the interest 
on private debt and this was the average rate of interest for 
the whole of the six colonies, the annual interest bill at this time 
sxceeded £9 millions. Adding this to the £6 millions payable 
on the public debtit is clear the total interest payable on both the 
private and public debt of Australia amounted to, at least, £15 
millions. Other estimates made at the time, based on different 
data, agree so closely with this total that it may be accepted 
with confidence? Allowing for that proportion of the private 
debt which was purely speculative in character, the community 
was faced with an annual interest bill amounting to not less 
than £15 millions. A very interesting comparison of the pro- 
sressive balance available for meeting the overseas debt can 
now be extracted from Coghlan’s figures. 
Tasre XIII 
Progressive Balance available for Interest 
(In Millions Sterling) 
1861. | 1871. | 1881. 
Total exports . . . . . 
Aggregate interest on whole debt ; 
Balance available . . : y ’ 
Percentage exports needed for interest 
Percentage exports available to buy imports 
16:6 | 231 | 312 
2:0 40 | 8-0 
46 | 191 | 232 
1° 17 26 
88 83 "4 
1 Wealth and Progress of New South Wales, 1892. 
2 Reginald Black estimated the total public and 
and £400 millions. 
private debt at between £350

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