The Ashburton Guardian. Magna Est Veritas et Prevalebit. FRIDAY, DECEMBER 29, 1882. An Apology for the Banks.
Whenever trade is bad we are certain to hear complaints from business men to the effect that the Banks are behaving cruelly towards them in “ putting the screw on,” and insisting that either the overdrafts should be lessened or a higher rate of interest allowed. This feeling on the part of those who have ventured upon speculations which they know to be perfectly sound, although it is not possible to realise on them at a moment’s notice, is nothing but natural. But it is as well that the old saying “audi alteram parterri' should be kept in view, and we therefore intend to write a few words on an article written on the side of the banks, which is to be found in the current number of the Australian Insurance and Banking Review. The article in question is entitled “ Advance in the Banks’ Lending Rates Justified,” and the writer, after commenting upon what he considers the unreasonableness of customers resenting higher rates when the time is inopportune to the debtor, proceeds to point out why money is dearer at the present time. Without going too deeply into figures, which would bore, without convincing, our readers, we will simply content ourselves with summarising the conclusions arrived at. It is pointed out that while the amount of money borrowed from the public for the year ending September 30 was that for the final quarter only amounted to The note circulation is expanding, although there is a slight contraction to the extent of during the last three months. But when we come to the advances made by the Banks during the concluding quarter of the year we find a striking contrast. It seems that during the twelve months there has been an increase in this department equal to 25 percent, and this is held to be more than sufficient excuse lor curbing what is called ‘•the insatiableness of the requirements of borrowers.” The reason of this increase is accounted for as follows : “ Every colony has been spreading its 'wings and essaying a bolder flight, and the percentage of increase is so great as to show that unusual influences have been at work. Speculations in stations, in suburban estates, in sugar lands has been extensive and persistent, and in some instances it will take a considerable time before existing advances can be wiped out, especially when the realisation of property bought with borrowed money is dependent on re-sale and not on profits of production.” We have italicised the last sentence, because we think that such an argument as that carries with it its own refutation. Surely reckless borrowing presupposes equally reckless lending, and if money has been advanced on property, profit on which is dependent upon its re-sale and not on its productiveness, the Banks have certainly been rash in advancing such large sums to mere speculators. The result of this is that bona fide merchants who have had recourse to their bankers for temporary accommodation find themselves, when there is a lull in trade, in a very awkward position, through circumstances for which they can scarcely be held responsible. The truth seems to be that the Banks are only too ready to lend money when business is in a flourishing state, but no sooner does trade become dull than they begin to press hardly on their customers. From the bankers’ point of view the argument is simple enough. They say that the very existence of the institutions under their c6ntrol depends upon their putting on pressure at the present time, and the figures that are put forth, which are startling enough, show that this is true. We are told “that the Banks have already laid out more than the whole of their own capital and all that they have borrowed in the Australasian colonies, the inference being that they have come under obligation abroad, say in London, for the last named sum.” Here we have, at any rate, ample reason why the Banks should exercise caution in sdvancing money, but it is not easy to see why the necessity for this caution was not brought home to them before. There seems, however, to be no other course left open for the banks but to “put the screw on,” and little hope is held out that the time is near when a lowering of interest rates will be justified. We are told that the only sources from which help can come are these :—(1) “The successful negotiation of Australasian loans in London.” (2) “ The forthcoming returns from our production of wool, gold, wheat, and other products.” (3) “ The determination of British capital to the colonies, especially through the channel of
\ Jj r finance and mortgage compafl^'s —this, current only setting in our airectioh. when our rate of interest rises, as at present, above the nominal British rate.” There is little consolation in all this to the bond, fide trader, although from a purely business point of view the argument of the Banks is practically unanswerable. Still, the present tightness of money will not be altogether an unmixed evil if it teaches people to speculate less rashly in the future in the expectation that the Banks will assist them to tide over bad times, while we have no doubt that the Banks themselves will appreciate the lesson taught them, and be more careful in advancing money.
R.M. Court. —There was a clean sheet at the Court to-day. Methvkn. —lt is intended to hold a concert and ball on New Year’s night at Methven, the proceeds to go to the Library Fund. Flower Show. --The inclemency of the weather has compelled the promoters of the Flower Show to postpone the opening of the Exhibition till Wednesday next.
The King of War Correspondents.— Archibald Forbes delivered his second lacture at Nelson on “ Kings and Princes I have met,” last evening, and was accorded a most hearty reception. The Otaoo Harbor. —The Otago Harbor Board have decided .to send home the plans of their new engineer, Mr Barr, for bar improvements, to Sir John Coode for approval before taking any action upon them.
Outward ’Frisco Mail. Mails for the United Kingdom, America, etc., via San Francisco, will close at. the local post office to-morrow morning at ten o’clock. mails, closing at five o’clock, will be despatched by the express train.
A Narrow Escape. —The Government domain at Auckland had a narrow escape of being burnt out on Wednesday. Some smokers threw a match in the undergrowth which blazed fiercely, and a quarter of an acre was destroyed before the fire was suppressed. Winslow Sports. —For the convenience of intending visitors to the Winslow Sports on New Year’s Day, the Railway Department have made arrangements for a special train to leave Ashburton at 10.46 a. m. Full particul irs will be found in our advertising columns. Masonic Hall, Rakaia. —This hall was opened and used for the first time on Wednesday evening. All the members present expressed themselves delighted with the comfort and convenience supplied. P. M. Hardy was accorded a hearty vote of thanks for the trouble he had taken in looking after the erection of the building. Sugar Repining Works. —Mr RJ’ie, representative of the Co onial Sugar Refining Company, and Mr .'vluir, Engineer, have arrived at Auckland from Sydney and will commence immediately the construction of the Company’s refining works at Duck Creek, North Shore. The first instalment of machinery is expected from England in eight months.
Oil on Troubled Waters. —The Timaru Harbormaster went out yesterday in the steam tug Titan to test the efficacy of using oil on heavy seas. He proceeded some miles out, taking a life boat with him. The result of the experiment exceeded the most sanguine expectations, and fully satisfied all on board that the oil might be used to great advantage.
The Weather. —The bad weather that has been prevalent in Ashburton during the past few days has cleared off, and this morning the sun was shining brightly and the sky clear. We have not heard that the farmers in the neighborhood have suffered any great loss. Our Rakaia c®rrespondent, writing yesterday, sajs : There was a very heavy rain all last night and to-day. The heavy crops are suffering as the wind is very strong and the ground thoroughly saturated. Should this continue, it wi 1 be a most serious thing for the farmers, large and small, in the district. There has been no such weather here for a long time, and there seems no prospect, of it clearing up.
Sunday School Gathering. The united annual gathering of Sabbath Schools on Sunday afternoon next will be larger than expected, the number of scholars and teachers in the district amounting to 828, and it is probable the majority will turn out, should the weather be favorable. The town schools will meet at their respective places at the usual hour, and march in procession as quickly as possible afterwards to the Town Hall. The children are to be all seated before the main doors are thrown open to visitors at 2.45, and the gallery is to be reserved for the mothers. The service is to commence a little before 3 and close at 4 o’clock. The Recent Sudden Death at Christchurch. —At the inquest held yesterd y on the body of the man who died suddenly in the lock-up at Christchurch, Dr Symea deposed that the post mortem examination made by him showed that deceased had died from chronic alcoholism, accelerated by the foul air of the lock-up, which, in its lower part and the interstices of the flooring, is soaked with excreta, vomit, etc., and which is impossible to clean except by burning. The witness added that he, after a visit, had been rendered very sick. In reply to Inspector Pender, he said he had invariably found the lock-up scrupulously clean, and no trouble spared to render the cells as sweet and habitable as circumstances would permit ; but the construction of the old part of the lock-up was extremely defective. The ventilation should be improved, the cells should be twice as high and twice as numerous, and some arrangement adopted by which the floor could be effectually cleansed or renewed when soaked with t-xcrata. The jury found a verdict in accordance with the medical evidence.
The Effects of Christmas Cheer.— Madras street north, Christchurch, was on Wednesday evening the scene of a quarrel, the like of which seldom if ever 00 urs in that locality, and which is attributed to the (insatiable thirst for intoxicants. The parties concerned, say. the Telegraph, have until recently been living it is supposed, in amity and conjugal felicity, though the husband was a little addicted to yjartaking rather too heavily of the “cup that cheers” and does inebriate. However, tho neighbours were treated to a comedy which, if rehearsed no end of times, could not have been much better performed. The “ lord and master ” reached home some time before six, and had an altercation with his “ hotter half,” the ultimate result being that both came to rather high words, and a crowd was not long in gathering round tho premises. An eye witness said that the wife was badly abused by her husband, who chose his expressions from neither a W dker’s nor a Webster’s dictionary, and denounced the unfortunate woman in no measured terms. The son interfered, and told his father he wasn’t going to see his mother illused. This would appear to have aroused the old man’s temper, and he closed with his son. A scuffle ensued, out of which the son came with a hand covered with blood, which rumour said was occasioned by the use of a knife, but the facts which were subsequently elicited hardly boreoutthisassertion. Thisactedasa final to what might have been a serious quarrel ; the combatants retired to the house, and tho spectators sought their homes, meanwhile giving unreserved expression to their opinions on the fracas.
' ' “ The North NbsjZbaland Settler.” —A. copy of this periodical' for the current rjionth, which his, attained its fifth number, comes tg ua.frbm Auckland. It is admirably got up, end contains a vast amount of information useful to farmers, gardeners, and all people following agricultural pursuits. Cubese and Butter Factory. —A meeting of shareholders in the above Company was held this aft moon in the upper chamber of the Town Hall, but the business done was purely of a formal character, consisting of the confirming of a couple of amended by-laws, altered at the late annual meeting of the shareholders.
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