Full text: Borrowing and business in Australia

and exports tend to exceed imports as a regular condition of 
As a matter of fact, however, the stages of youth, adolescence, 
and maturity in national borrowing never exhibit this ideal 
regularity. ‘On the contrary they usually take place with 
marked irregularities. And not only are they irregular: they 
are subject to abrupt stoppages. They frequently entail 
spasmodic changes in international payments and in the move- 
ments of goods.” It is in this irregularity, rather than in the 
economic effects of borrowing as such, that the chief mischief 
of the situation lies. To a steady and economically justifiable 
increase in the national debt most new countries can adapt 
themselves easily; but intermittent and uncertain supplies of 
capital may strangle legitimate development, just as easily as 
a too copious supply may drown it in a flood of credit with the 
help of the mill-stone of over-capitalization. 
The life-history of most countries in relation to capital move- 
ments may be likened with some effect to that of a river. In 
the early stages the youthful borrower resembles the stream 
in its mountain tract—vigorous, plunging, and liable to sudden 
falls and freshets; but easily capable of carrying off the new 
accessions to its volume from the tributary streams. In the 
second stage our borrower enters the valley that lies between 
youth and maturity, where the stream fluctuates between the 
riches of winter and the poverty of summer, a phase where great 
accessions to volume may easily choke the channel, cause 
disastrous flood, and hold up production. Here, too, are to be 
found those rapids that impede the even flow of the stream, 
always to be feared bub always looming in view when least 
expected. Lastly, our stream meanders over the plain as the 
broad and placid river, easily able to assimilate the sudden 
floods which spell such trouble in the higher reaches, but which 
here merely hold the promise of greater productivity on the 
plains fertilized by the overflow. 
This irregularity in the flow of capital and the consequences 
of intermittent supply in all borrowing countries merits some 
further consideration. 
‘If’, says Taussig, ‘loans on capital account were continued regu- 
larly at the same amount year after year, the accumulating interest 
1 Taussig, op. cit., p. 129.

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