Bimetallism by Leonard Darwin
"A summary and examination of the arguments for and against a bimetallic system of currency." The author believes that the question of the ratio must be fought out ere any real advance can be made in the bimetallic cause. Clearly written.
The word " bimetallism " 'is now well understood, Definition but, as it is a somewhat misleading phrase, it may figure be as well to commence by clearly stating what is the meaning here attached to it.
The adoption of bimetallism in this country would entail such an alteration in the law as would permit anyone who now owes a certain weight of coined gold — a certain number of pounds sterling — to discharge that debt, either by paying the said weight of coined gold or by paying a proportionately larger weight of coined silver, the ratio between the two weights being enacted once for all on the establishment of the system. Or, to put the matter more generally, bi- metallism means any currency system which would establish a right on the part of the debtor to discharge his liabilities at his option in either of the two metals at a ratio fixed by law.
A system of bimetallism in which the option was given to the creditor as to the metal in which the payment might be made would be impracticable, because (amongst other reasons) giving that option to the creditor instead of to the debtor, would necessitate all debtors,
The semimetallic system is not discussed in this volume, for, though probably theoretically preferable to bimetallism, it does not appear to me to come within the region of practical politics. This system, which was proposed by Professor Alfred Marshall, would enable the Government to issue certificates, each certificate representing a sum of gold and a sum of silver, the ratio between the two being fixed internationally.
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