Full text: Borrowing and business in Australia

invested £71 millions in Australia, the total of British invest- 
ments in all the other colonies amounted to only £52 millions, 
an indication of the extent to which the British investor was 
obsessed by Australian investments. 
In the following five years the public debt of Australia 
increased enormously. The new borrowings amounted to £33 
millions of which £12 millions went to Victoria, £10 millions to 
New South Wales, and £11 millions to the four other colonies. 
During the period a further £8 millions was also borrowed for 
redemption purposes. In addition municipal borrowing was 
carried out on a grand scale, chiefly on debentures of various 
kinds; and, as we have seen, the financial institutions received 
enormous sums on deposit. Assuming a rate of increase equal 
to only two-thirds of that in the period examined by the 
Economist, a very conservative estimate indeed, a total of new 
debt amounting to £80 millions is obtained for the following 
five years, of which £33 millions is accounted for by public 
borrowing. By 1892, therefore, the amount of British invest- 
ments reached at least £300 millions, and this total does not 
include a very large amount of privately invested capital for 
which no financial record exists. Coghlan estimates that these 
unrecorded investments could not amount to less than £40 
millions ; and we are thus on safe ground in estimating that the 
total public and private debt of the Australian colonies reached, 
at the very least, £350 millions by the beginning of 1893.1 
In 1892 an attempt was made by Pulsford to trace the move- 
ment of British capital into Australia for the preceding fifteen 
years by means of the balance of trade. This affords a very 
rough and inaccurate test; but, by balancing exports against 
imports, he arrives at the estimate of £92 millions for the period. 
In the face of the difficulties involved in reconstructing the 
whole balance of indebtedness for the period this estimate must 
suffice as a basis for examination. 
Having regard to the development sketched in the last 
chapter, it is important to estimate the distribution of this new 
L Mulhall, Dictionary of Statistics, gives the average interest rates for the 
successive decades upon British capital investments as follows: 1851-60, 4-17 %; 
1861-70, 4-24 9; 1871-80, 3-28 %; 1881-5, 8:3 %. 
In 1890 Coghlan estimated the annual payments made overseas for interest, 
calculated at an average rate of 4 per cent., would indicate a capital of more than 
£130 millions.

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