Courtesy Reuters

How Chile Has Met the Depression

MY TASK is to outline the financial and economic situation in Chile, going back for that purpose to the threatened collapse of our national structure in the maelstrom of world depression, and the forces which the Chilean Government employed to combat that threat. A nation's problems often fail to awaken much sympathetic attention abroad; an earthquake in Asia involving a loss of thousands of human lives commands less interest, as expressed in the columns of the daily press, than a train wreck or a local fire. However, the toll taken by the world depression may have brought us all somewhat closer together in the sympathy of a common tragedy. Specifically, the course taken by the crisis in Chile has so closely paralleled developments in the United States that each people may be ready to take a sincere and friendly interest in the other's misfortunes and in the steps which it has taken to recover the ground lost in the economic landslide of 1929-32.

By any reasonable measure Chile has suffered more bitterly from the world crisis than almost any other important nation. Our exports dropped from $278,000,000 in 1929 to the insignificant total of $42,000,000 in 1932, and this 85 percent slump could not but entail acute suffering for the entire Chilean people. It must be remembered that with us the export trade is the very foundation of the national economic structure and not, as in some more self-sufficient countries, merely a desirable adjunct to domestic trade. The effects of the drop in internal purchasing power following the shrinkage in exports were immediately and everywhere apparent. Farmers found it impossible to dispose of their crops even at ruinous prices, and, consequently, they had no way of meeting their obligations. The position of those dependent upon industry was scarcely less acute. Add to this the fact that government revenues fell from nearly $150,000,000 in 1929 to $43,000,000 in 1932, when the Chilean people were most in need of assistance, and some idea will be had of the magnitude and scope of

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