THE war confronts the whole horizon of spirit and of mind. Our own participation in it advances step by step. We do not know the cost or duration of the struggle, only that it must be won. Still the impulse survives, amidst the deepening fury, to seek the terms on which a peaceful world, more satisfactory and more stable than the one we have known, may be established. Students and public officials, responding sympathetically and almost instinctively to the feeling of the nation, join in this search. I do not know whether it was true of other wars; but certainly in this one, though laws may be silent, students are not. This being so, one more brief suggestion for the improvement of the future can add little to the distraction. This must be my apology for this article if one is needed.
My aim is to advance for critical consideration a suggestion for improving the basis of international economic relations. In essence, it is a suggestion for what might be termed a "Trade Stabilization Budget or Fund." In form it may appear to be novel. But most of its elements have in substance already made their appearance in agreements and actions of the United States.
The rapid and widespread defection of the nations, in the last few years, from the arrangements and agreements which in the past had come to form the pattern of international trade was sudden and unexpected. For these arrangements and agreements had seemed so solidly established.
Before 1914, in fact, they appeared to represent an almost perfected international system. Governments intervened but little in the trade and financial dealings between peoples of different countries. The view prevailed that the operation of the system served the interests of all nations decidedly well; and this appeared to be receiving marked corroboration by cumulative experience. The world's trade was doubling each decade. Cheap sources of supply were replacing costly ones. The condition of life in most countries was definitely improving.
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