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International Finance by Hartley Withers (1867-1950)

In the beginnings of international trade the older countries exchange their products for the raw materials and food produced by the new ones. Then, as emigrants from the old countries go out into the new ones, they want to be supplied with the comforts and appliances of the older civilizations, such as, to take an obvious example, railways. But as the productions of the new countries, at their early stage of development, do not suffice to pay for all the material and machinery needed for building railways, they borrow, in effect, these materials, in the expectation that the railways will open out their resources, enable them to put more land under the plough and bring more stuff to the seaboard, to be exchanged for the products of Europe. The new country, New Zealand or Japan, or whichever it may be, raises a loan in England for the purpose of building a railway, but it does not take the money raised by the loan in the form of money, but in the form of goods needed for the railway, and sometimes in the form of the services of those who plan and build it. It does not follow that all the stuff and services needed for the enterprise are necessarily bought in the country that lends the money; for instance, if Japan borrows money from us for a railway, she may buy some of the steel rails and locomotives in Belgium, and instruct us to pay Belgium for her purchases. If so, instead of sending goods to Japan we shall have to send goods or services to Belgium, or pay Belgium with the claim on some other country that we have established by sending goods or services to it. But, however long the chain may be, the practical fact is that when we lend money we lend somebody the right to claim goods or services from us, whether they are taken from us by the borrower, or by somebody to whom the borrower gives a claim on us.