ECONOMIC data make dull evening reading. But they nevertheless record the acts of a drama, a motion picture, a mystery plot, with full sound and color.
Thus it is an exciting fact that industrial production in the United States rose 48 percent from March 1933 to May 1934, but lost half this gain during the next two months. During the same sixteen months' period, production in France fell 9 percent; wholesale prices in the United Kingdom advanced 11 percent but in Italy declined 4 percent; the number of unemployed decreased 29 percent in Canada but increased 5 percent in Poland. Wheat recently was $0.50 per bushel in Sydney, Australia, and $2.00 in Milan. The interest rate on commercial paper is 0.72 percent in Amsterdam and 4.38 in Tokyo. The police are closing retail meat markets in Germany, where prices have advanced contrary to government regulations, while the Winnipeg Grain Exchange has fixed minimum prices for wheat.
Such is the bewildering stuff of which present world economic history is being made. Many pieces of the puzzle are missing, and even could we fit together those which we have, much of the real picture would still be left to the imagination.
The platitudinous say that we are in a new and rapidly changing world, full of economic experimentation. But "experiment" is not quite the right word, for to the scientist that term has definite implications of controlled conditions and detailed observation. One sad aspect of the present era is that, partly because of carelessness and partly because of the complexity of the situation, the so-called experiments will create more controversies as to their real effects than they will contribute in demonstrable principle.
Perhaps most specific social experiments are equally difficult to evaluate. However, in this particular instance all the usual troubles of inadequate data and shortsightedness as to perspective are intensely aggravated. Those determining policy have not consented to follow the gentle and simple methods of science, where changes are restricted to single variables, but have persisted in operating in a wholesale way on many
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