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and forties of the last century experts had been sent out to the Black Sea regions to investigate possible markets for English manufactures in exchange for agricultural products; and the results of these investigations surpassed all expectations. That English goods were appreciated in the Danubian regions is borne out by the assertions of the British Consul, Wilkinson, who wrote that the plain and printed calicoes, the chintz, glass and earthenware brought to the markets of the Rumanian principalities are, without exception, German; but they are called English and, as such, sold at higher prices than they would fetch were their origin made known.'* The English did not fail to profit by the lessons of these investigations, for, some thirty years after the above lines were written, we find the Prussian Consul, Neige. baur, complaining that the products of the English steam industry inundate all the seaports to which they have access,' and that the import of English goods in the Principalities grows year by year, and already means serious competition for the German and Austrian manufacturers.' †
One obstacle to the expansion of British trade in the Principalities lay in the difficult navigation of the Danube Mouths. England entrusted two experts with the study of the question; and, as a result, the suggestion was put forward to obtain from Turkey a concession for the construction of a canal from Czernavoda to Constantza, thus linking together, through Turkish territory, the Danube and the Black Sea. Notwithstanding the opposition of Russia and Austria, the concession was obtained, thanks especially to the efforts of Lord Stratford de Redcliffe, the English Ambassador at Constantinople; but, before the plan was carried out, and upon the advice of a special commission, it was decided to give up the idea of the canal and to build instead a railway between the two ports mentioned. The idea was received so favourably in England, that the whole of the required capital was subscribed at once, leaving no room for a promised government participation.
* W. Wilkinson, op. cit., p. 83.
+ J. F. Neigebaur, ‘Beschreibung der Moldau und der Walachei,' Leipzig, 1848, p. 256.
The railway line, the first in those regions, was thrown open to traffic in 1860; but, for various reasons of a political and geographical character, the enterprise did not prove as successful as was anticipated, though the import of English goods was trebled in the period from 1860 to 1875. After the acquisition of the Dobrudscha by Rumania (1878), the line and all the material were sold under very favourable conditions to the Rumanian Government in 1882.
We see, therefore, that England was well aware of the economic value of Rumania, whose situation had been put on a much more secure footing with the advent of the new régime. She also could not have overlooked the fact that Rumania, a purely agricultural state, had to rely fully upon foreign manufactures, which were of necessity of either English or German origin. Nor was England at any great disadvantage regarding transport, for the activity of the European Danube Commission, instituted by the Paris Convention of 1858, kept the Danube open to sea-going vessels bound to the principal Rumanian inland ports, Braila and Galatz. But I am not aware that any attempt was made by English finance to profit by the situation. They left it to the Germans, and the Germans did not hesitate to advance the necessary capital. The Strousberg concern was taken over by the Rumanian Railways Company, founded by Bleichröder and the Diskonto-Gesellschaft, the original subscribers receiving preferential shares in the new undertaking in exchange for their bonds, the Rumanian Government guaranteeing an interest of 7} per cent.
If it be true, wrote a French author a few years ago, that Prince Carol owed the throne in 1866 to Napoleon III, it is only just to say that it was due to Bleichröder and the Diskonto that he did not lose it in 1871. The German banks lost nothing by this throw of the financial dice. They secured a footing in Rumania ; with time they were to take root even more deeply, and in the end were destined to succeed in placing Rumania completely under their powerful economic and financial control. In 1880 the railways were acquired by the state, Germany, not without profit to herself, again supplying the money necessary for that operation.
Encouraged by the benevolent attitude of German
finance, Rumania ventured on a policy of extravagant construction, spending for the army, for railways, for harbours, and for magnificent buildings, at a pace inconsistent with her revenue, always at the mercy of a bad harvest. A well-known Rumanian statesman, the late M. Sturdza, calculated in a speech in the Chamber (Feb. 1, 1902) that the state had incurred 12,000,0001. of excessive expenses. It became habitual to cover these expenses and the almost perennial deficits by loans; and the public debt rose in consequence from 21,600,0001. in 1876 to 29,000,0001. in 1886, though the state revenue had nearly doubled in that period as compared with the previous decade. During the following ten years the revenue again increased by almost 50 per cent., which did not prevent the public debt reaching 54,000,0001. in 1896, no less than nine external loans having been contracted between 1888 and 1898.
The danger of such a policy became unpleasantly apparent in 1899, when, on account of the complete failure of the harvest, the exports dropped to 5,960,0001., as compared with 11,320,0001. in the previous year. German finance again obligingly helped to tide over that crisis, not without using it, however, to strengthen its hegemony in Rumania. The Diskonto and Bleichröder succeeded in obtaining from the government in 1900 a 12} years' lease of the cigarette-paper monopoly for a payment of 600,0001. A similar sum served to buy the government's share in the National Bank of Rumania, till then free from foreign participation. Only the opposition of public opinion prevented further concessions. To cover the actual deficit, which on Sept. 1, 1901, amounted to 6,860,0001., the Treasury issued 7,000,0001. of 5 per cent. bonds, to be repaid at par on Dec. 31, 1904. The economic situation was not very favourable, and the government, which had undertaken not to float any loans during that period, found itself unable to repay the amount within so short a time; it had once more to appeal to German finance for the conversion in 1903 of that floating debt into a fixed 5 per cent. debt of 7,400,0001. In 1905 loan charges were absorbing 36.55 per cent. of the total revenue of the state (in England 14:65 per cent.); and their weight was felt the more because the early loans had been concluded under very onerous conditions.
The whole of the Rumanian public debt, which was 70,320,0001. on April 1, 1915 (in addition to a floating debt in Treasury bills of 24,000,0001., and advances by the National Bank to the amount of 16,000,0001.), has been financed by Germany, although the rate of interest was often higher, at the time of borrowing, in Berlin than in Paris and London. Even the considerable amounts covered in Paris, and the much smaller sums advanced in London, were offered for subscription through the intermediary of German banks, which thus both derived a profit from invested capital other than their own, and to some extent controlled it. Thus it was calculated that of the total debt of 63,160,0001., in 1906, Germany was holding 30,780,0001. and was receiving annually as interest, etc., 1,960,0001., representing 6:36 per cent. ; while the corresponding figures for France were 18,490,0001. and 940,0001., the latter representing only 5:07 per cent. of the capital. Who was to blame for such a situation?
An attempt to reduce German political and economic influence was made in 1913. The diplomatic machinations of Austria had considerably weakened the bonds between Rumania and the Central Powers. The journey of Prince Ferdinand---now King of Rumania-to Petrograd, and the even more significant visit which the Tsar soon afterwards paid to the late King Carol at Constantza, unmistakably pointed towards a change in Rumanian foreign politics. In harmony with those events was the desire of the Rumanian government to float a loan on the Paris bourse, for which purpose M. Marghiloman, then Finance Minister, was despatched to Paris. This was soon after the conclusion of the Peace of Bucarest (August 1913), which had added to Rumania's greatly consolidated economic position an enhanced political prestige. Rumanian public opinion viewed the government's change of policy with much satisfaction, and in the light of the recent successes was nurturing sanguine expectations as to the result of M. Marghiloman's mission. Yet, notwithstanding the efforts of the latter, an agreement could not be arrived at, mainly, strange to say, on account of the unsympathetic attitude of French official circles. The transactions were followed closely by German financiers; and, at the critical moment, M. Marghiloman was approached
by the representative of the Diskonto with an offer so favourable that he could not do otherwise than break off negotiations with the French bankers. He proceeded that very day to Berlin, where he had no difficulty in arriving at an early settlement.
German finance has shown an equally enterprising spirit outside public transactions. To apportion nicely its share in the banking organisation of Rumania is naturally impossible; but it can be stated on good authority that it amounts to at least 50 per cent. of the total capital involved. Leaving aside the Banca Natională Română, which alone has the right of issuing notes, there are eight great banks in Bucarest-which means in Rumania. Of these, the Banca Generală Română was founded in 1895 by the Diskonto-Gesellschaft and Bleichröder, both of Berlin; the Banca de Credit Român was founded in 1904 by the K. K. Privilegierte Oesterreichische Länderbank and the Niederösterreichische Escompte-Gesellschaft, both of Vienna ; while the Banca Comercială Română is a creation of the Anglo-Oesterreichische Bank and Wiener Bankverein, of Vienna, in cooperation with the Banque de l'Union Parisienne, Paris, and the Crédit Anversois, Antwerp. The latter, however, though founded in Antwerp in accordance with Belgian law, is but an offshoot of the Darmstädter Bank, and works entirely with German capital. A fourth bank, that of Marmorosch, Blank & Co., was founded in 1905 partly with Rumanian capital, in conjunction with the Pester Ungarische Kommerzial-Bank, of Budapest, and the Bank für Handel und Industrie and the Berliner Handels-Gesellschaft, of Berlin.
That there should not be a single bank controlled by French finance in a country whose life is so fully dominated by French influence, and whose business connexions with France are considerable, is a fact which speaks for itself. From that point of view English finance is seemingly better off, for it possesses such an institution in The Bank of Roumania, Ltd. Founded in 1866, it was the first bank to be established in Rumania; yet it never played an important part on the Bucarest market, because it preferred to adhere to the traditions of English banking rather than adapt itself to the