This section is from the "The Science Of Wealth" book, by Amasa Walker.
The comparative fluctuations in the United States and England is shown by the following table of rates of interest from 1844, when Sir Robert Peel's act was passed, up to 1858, inclusive, — fifteen years, The rates of the Bank of England are from official sources: those in the United States are furnished by one* who has kept himself acquainted with the street rates in the city of Boston. The banks being prohibited by legislation from taking more than a fixed per cent, the actual value of interest, or the use of money, can only be ascertained from quotations of transactions outside. These are essentially correct, as applied, not only to the particular market in which they were taken, but to the other large money markets of the country.
* Joseph G. Martin, Esq., Boston, author of many valuable statistical tables, &c.
Table VI., showing the Fluctuations in the Rates of Interest in England and the United States from 1844 to 1868, inclusive.
The average rate of interest in the Bank of England, from 1844 to 1858, as computed from tables in the " Merchants' Magazine," vol. ii. page 465, was...............3.82 per cent.
Approximate average for the same time in the United States............10.5
We say approximate average; for the data are too imperfect in this country to give any exact results. The average of 10.5 may be somewhat too high; and yet, as computed upon transactions made in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Chicago, and St. Louis, it is doubtful whether it is much in excess of the true average rate.
The dividends which the banks of this country make, after paying heavy taxes and general expenses, show, that the rate of interest they obtain, notwithstanding the legal restriction, must be high with them; and it is notorious that interest "outside" at all times, when money is in demand, is greater than that charged by the banks. The interest paid upon mortgages and other permanent investments is most commonly six per cent. It is mainly on business paper that the high rates are obtained.
Table VII., showing the Fluctuations in the Rate of Interest at the Bank of England for 160 Years, divided into different Periods.
The foregoing table presents a striking view of the mixed currency of England.
1st, The great contrast between the stability of the rate of interest for the first one hundred and forty years and the last twenty years; only sixteen changes in the rate during the former, and ninety-three changes during the latter period.
2d, The great and violent fluctuations within the last twenty years, ranging from two to ten per cent, corresponding to the variations in the United States from four to thirty-six.
3d, We observe the several suspensions of the Bank of England, and of the Bank Act of 1844.
4th, We observe the same succession of panics as have been witnessed in the United States. Sir Robert Peel, in his speech on the suspension of the Bank-charter Act in 1847, specifies the following: "the panics of 1784, 1793, 1810, 1819, 1826, and 1837."The panics of 1847 and 1857 have since been added.
Between the years 1784 and 1857, inclusive, — a period of seventy-three years, — there have been eight panics, or, on an average, one in nine years, if we reckon that of 1784.
They correspond very nearly with those panics which have occurred in the United States. And here it may not be improper to present some additional facts in regard to the British currency, showing in how far it corresponds to our own in its character and effects.