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THE BREAKDOWN OF GERMANY

But that is not the end of the story. While both the above settlements remain in force, the temporary regime

under which Germany has been paying is different from, and much less than, either of them. By a decision of

last March Germany was to pay during 1922 L36,000,000 (gold) in cash, plus deliveries in kind. The value of

the latter cannot be exactly calculated, but, apart from coal, they do not amount to much, with the result that

the 1922 demands are probably between a third and a quarter of the London Settlement, and less than

one−sixth of the Reparation Commission's original total. It is under the weight of this reduced burden that

Germany has now broken down, and the present crisis is due to her inability to continue these reduced

instalments beyond the payment of July, 1922. In the long run the payments due during 1922 should be within

Germany's capacity. But the insensate policy pursued by the Allies for the last four years has so completely

ruined her finances, that for the time being she can pay nothing at all; and for a shorter or longer period it is

certain that there is now no alternative to a moratorium.

What, in these circumstances, does M. Poincare propose? To judge from the semi−official forecasts, he is

prepared to cancel what are known as the "C" Bonds, provided Great Britain lets France off the whole of her

debt and forgoes her own claims to Reparation. What are these "C" Bonds? They are a part of the London

Settlement of May, 1921, and, roughly speaking, they may be said to represent the excess of the Reparation

Commission's assessment over the capitalised value of the London Schedule of Payments, and a bit more.

That is to say, they are pure water. They mainly represent that part of the Reparation Commission's total

assessment which will not be covered, even though the London Schedule of Payments is paid in full.

In offering the cancellation of these Bonds, therefore, M. Poincare is offering exactly nothing. If Great Britain

gave up her own claims to Reparations, and the "C" Bonds were cancelled to the extent of France's

indebtedness to us, France's claims against Germany would be actually greater, even on paper, than they are

now. For the demands under the London Settlement would be unabated, and France would be entitled to a

larger proportion of them. The offer is, therefore, derisory. And it seems to me to be little short of criminal on

the part of The Times to endeavour to trick the people of this country into such a settlement.

Personally, I do not think that at this juncture there is anything whatever to be done except to grant a

moratorium. It is out of the question that any figure, low enough to do Germany's credit any good now, could

be acceptable to M. Poincare, in however moderate a mood he may visit London next week. Apart from

which, it is really impossible at the present moment for any one to say how much Germany will be able to pay in the long run. Let us content ourselves, therefore, with a moratorium for the moment, and put off till next

year the discussion of a final settlement, when, with proper preparations beforehand, there ought to be a grand

Conference on the whole connected problem of inter−Governmental debt, with representatives of the United

States present, and possibly at Washington.