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June 7 last with aggregate capital of $1,019,000,000; other reporting banks from 6,650 with aggregate capital of $403,000,000 to 17,115 with aggregate capital of $932,000,000. The non-reporting banks, chiefly private banks or brokers, are now estimated at 4,159 with capital of $80,000,000.
It will thus be seen that the capital of the national banks about equals the capital of all other reporting and non-reporting banks, but the other banking institutions out-number the national banks nearly 3 to 1.
The increase in deposits of the banks and in the volume of their loans during the past ten years shows what measure of prosperity the people have enjoyed. It is a period unparalleled in the history of the country's finances, in the growth of banks and the gain in deposits, and the statistics from all the banks annually compiled tell a most interesting story of the country's growth in wealth, and from them we may obtain a clearer idea perhaps of business conditions than from any other source of information.
Taking our country by and large, the banks are today better managed, as a whole, both State and national, than ever before in the history of this country. There are a few badly managed banks, but that has always been so and always will be. The thing to do is to use all of the power given to an executive by law, and supplement that by the best and most efficient executive administration, to lift up the badly managed banks to a higher place of safety. We need, and sorely need in this country, such a reform in our banking laws as will prevent in times of panic and crises the breaking down of our great credit machinery with a resulting paralysis of business of every kind from the smallest to the greatest. When that legislation is passed we shall have the best banking system in the world; a banking system that gives banking facilities under local control and direction to every little hamlet in this great country. We are forging ahead wonderfully; the last decade tells a story that should make us all feel proud of our country's development.
Laurence 0. Murray
INCREASE IN BANKING BUSINESS.
RETARDING influences in the financial world are seen to be less considerable when expressed in figures than in words. Or, is it because bad news travels faster than the other kind that the impression got abroad that the last twelvemonth had been exceptionally fruitful of developments disastrous to general business? At any rate, what happened to give us cause for apprehension seems not to have had an immediate chilling effect on banking operations, a barometer of trade whose readings can not be gainsaid.
Comptroller of the Currency Murray is the indisputable authority for the rather surprising statement, made in his annual report to Congress, that the volume of business transacted by the national banks during the year ended October 31 was substantially larger than during the previous year. Additionally the bank deposits show a gain in excess of half a billion, while the sum total of ready money in circulation reached new top-notch figures. These items of special significance are tempered, however, by the circumstantial statement that the increased operations over 1910 are less than the ten-year average.
A still more important item on the debit side is that loans and discounts, the biggest item in a bank's resources, increased only 3.59 per cent., as against an average ten-year increase of 6.52 per cent. The fact that individual deposits reached the highest point ever attained also attests to a state of things not reflective of ideal conditions, since it goes to show that the depositors would not have put in bank had they needed the money in their business. However, the croakers can not escape from the concrete fact that the deterrent influences were not present in sufficient strength to put a full check on the momentum due to nat
ural increase, whatever the consequences were in special cases. Losses in New England and the middle States were offset by the phenomenally favorable conditions in the South. The West appears to have held its own, the banner crop yields of a year ago practically compelling a continuance of activity in the transportation business and in market circles despite the depression in the East.
There is no offset to the flattering returns as to the net earnings and dividends of national banks during the last fiscal year. The earnings approximated $157,000,000, out of which $115,000,000 was disbursed in dividends representing 11.38 per cent. on the capital, and 6.83 per cent. on the combined capital and surplus. The Comptroller's report, on the whole, is the most valuable contribution to the factors making for a return to normal conditions in the centers of disturbance that the Treasury has yielded since things took a bad turn.
PANAMA CANAL REGULATION OF COMMERCE.
BY LEWIS NIXON.
THE rampant altruism existing in some quarters which wishes to make the Panama Canal a free highway for the ships of all nations, is not taken seriously. Therefore, prior to the official opening, the necessary laws must be passed by Congress to establish regulations as to tolls and other details of operation.
The Suez Canal is managed by a company and pays a dividend of about 30 per cent. Of course the largest stockholders are nations, but though the cost of the shares has probably been paid back to them several times we hear no demand from the important maritime nations that this Canal should be made a free highway. Such generosity is expected only from the United States.
Between producers of Europe and the markets of the East, Providence has provided a barrier of land, and our position was advantageous from the fact that our European competitors in Eastern markets had either to pass over or around such land or to go via Suez.
Many seem to have lost sight of the fact that the centre of population of the United States is far westward, and that if commodities must be shipped by water to Eastern Asiatic markets the demand will be met by a response that will develop factories whose rail distance will be less to our Western ports that are situated thousands of miles nearer to such markets than our Eastern ports. I have seen it stated that it was possible to take freight from New York via Galveston and the Southern Pacific to Los Angeles at six dollars per ton and make money. If this be possible, the wisdom of the building of the Tehuantepec route has been more than justified and our lack of foresight in not coöperating with Mexico clearly demonstrated.