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United States Department of State / Papers relating to the foreign relations of the United States, 1920

Haiti,   pp. 760-853 PDF (33.4 MB)

Page 787

abolished all duties on American gold so as to permit it the widest
circulation in the country. Circumstances being identical, why
should that which is good for Salvador be bad for Haiti?
The American Foreign Banking Corporation justly says in its
protest of July 30, 1920:
" The proposed clause constitutes a direct and unwarranted re-
striction on banking business; it leaves to the discretion of a single
official, whose decision is final and who may not be always well in-
formed as to the needs of a. bank, the power to grant or refuse
permission to import gold. However regrettable his decision may
be and however harmful to our interests, it is without appeal."
How can we believe indeed that in so complicated a question the
Financial Adviser can pass sovereign judgment on the needs of
the market; that he can at each moment decide in an infallible
manner how much gold coin is needed for all the commercial, indus-
trial, and civil transactions of the whole country? Is not Mr.
McIlhenny then liable to err? He has on a recent occasion demon-
strated that like all other men he may make mistakes. Being called
upon to convert into francs $3,000,000 for the account of the Gov-
ernment at the best possible time and rate-he found in November
last that the best time had arrived and that the best rate was avail-
able, and he converted at the average rate of 9.201/4 to the dollar.
Not long thereafter the franc fell to 17.18. This mistake meant to
the Republic of Haiti a loss of several million francs. If an expert
financier, as is Mr. McIlhenny, surrounded by the best knowledge,
residing in New York and able to watch on the spot the fluctuations
of exchange on the principal market of foreign money, could have
made such a grievous mistake in his forecast, F 'w can it be believed
that he could never make any mistakes in estimating the amount
of gold needed on the Haitian market? On what data would he
rest his opinion? On that which would be furnished by the
National Bank of the Republic of Haiti. One can see at once what
would become of other bankers and merchants at the hands of that
bank, whose hard dealing in business is well known, and which,
not more than a few months back, came near causing a formidable
crash in the market by suddenly and ruthlessly stopping all credits.
It may be seen that the advantages of the measure would be
incalculable to the National Bank of the Republic of Haiti; no
one has yet attempted to show what may be its advantages to the
country. Now when all the Haitian and foreign merchants and
the whole Haitian people back their Government's protest against
a measure which they unanimously declare to be disastrous, is
it conceivable that Mr. McIlhenny and the National Bank of the
Republic of Haiti can be right as against everybody else?

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