TO THE intelligent American, troubled and worried about the future buying power of his salary, wages, income, or life insurance, "Foreign Exchange" is just another one of the financial phrases appearing in the perpetual crossword puzzle that confronts him every morning in the business section of his newspaper. In the course of the past few years, however, he has learned to his sorrow that the phrase is not always a harmless one. He has often seen breath-taking rises and sickening declines in his own wholly domestic business ascribed by his favorite financial commentator to the "weakness of the franc" or a "rise in the price of gold in London." Quite naturally, therefore, Americans in every economic field have expressed the wish that those in authority in the various countries would get together and agree on something to put an end to these mysterious and unnecessary shifts in the economic weather.
In response to this growing plea for fewer hurricanes over the financial seas, many plausible suggestions, plans, and formulas have been offered. A great deal of loose talk has been heard about "stabilizing the exchanges." Every few days we read that still another after-dinner speaker has said that if only we would stabilize the exchanges we could have fair weather sailing, international trade would flow freely again, and our domestic economy would flourish.
For the past eighteen years I have been one of the group of American business men actively engaged in foreign trade. During this trying time we American foreign traders have had many headaches. We have butted into the bruising wall of exchange embargoes, restrictions, and fluctuations. We have spent countless hours gazing into the crystal ball, to determine, if we could, some faint outline of an international monetary pattern that would enable us to avoid huge exchange losses. We have had intimate and practical experience with all of the various currency experiments that have been tried in that period: the flight of the German mark and the Central
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