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On August 31, 1918, the national debt of France was estimated (unofficially) at 130,127 million francs, consisting of the following: consolidated debt, 32,187; national defense treasury bills, 26,453; short-term bonds, 679; advances of the Bank of France and the Bank of Algiers, 19,415; credits of foreign countries, 25,678; pre-war debt, 25,715. If to this sum there is added the fourth loan of 27,853 million francs, the debt at the end of 1918 may be placed at 157,710 million francs.2


The official estimate of war expenditures from August 1, 1914 to October 31, 1918, is as follows:3

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Add payments to be made in foreign countries and

interest paid upon war debts by Treasury..... 11,620.5

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1 L'Economiste Européen, October 4, 1918, pp. 212-213, Edmond Théry.

2 M. Ribot estimated it at 170 billion francs. London Economist, December 28, 1918. The estimate in the text coincides roughly with the figures presented by M. Klotz as of March 31, 1919.

Ibid., February 1, 1919, pp. 135-136.

The public debt stood at 63,093 million lire on October 31, 1918, composed of the following:1

Old debt...

War debt:

First loan, 4 per cent, issued July, 1915, redeemable between 1925 and 1940


Second loan, 5 per cent, issued Jan.-March,


1916, redeemable between 1925 and 1940 Third loan, 5 per cent, issued Feb., 1917, not redeemable before 1931

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M. Nitti, Minister of Finance, recently stated that the actual deficit for the financial year 1917-18 was 6,271 million lire. Expenditures totaled 25,239 million lire of which 18,580 were for war purposes. Against this amount there were revenue receipts, 7,496 million lire, and proceeds from loans, 11,529 millions. The budget for 1918-19 provided for receipts at 4,419 millions and ordinary expenditures at 4,207 millions, as against



1 Bankverein Suisse, February, 1917; Statesman's Yearbook, 1917; and London Economist, December 28, 1918.

L'Economiste Européen, December 6, 1918, p. 363; Revue Financière et Economique d'Italie, October 31, 1918, p. 276.

Bulletin de Statistique et de Législation Comparée, February, 1918, "Exposé Financier de M. Francesco Nitti, Ministre du Trésor, December 19, 1917," pp. 265

4,855 millions and 5,515 millions, respectively, in the 1919-20 budget.1

A war profits tax, retroactive in character to the beginning of the war, was recently introduced. New or accrued profits in excess of the ordinary amount subject to the income tax during the two years, 1913 and 1914, comprise the base of the war profits tax. All recipients are divided into two classes: Class A, persons engaged in industrial, commercial and mercantile pursuits, and Class B, middlemen (Fr. intermédiaires). For Class A, the rates vary from 12 per cent of the profits above 8 per cent to 10 per cent of the capital, to 35 per cent on profits exceeding 20 per cent of the capital employed, during the period August 31, 1914 to December 31, 1915. For the periods subsequent to December 31, 1915 the minimum rate is 20 per cent and the maximum 60 per cent. Those falling in Class B are taxed during the earlier period at the rate of 5 per cent on profits ranging from one-tenth to one-half of the basic figure, up to 35 per cent if the profits are triple the amount ordinarily accumulated. The minimum and maximum rates for periods subsequent to December 31, 1915, are 10 per cent and 40 per cent, respectively.


The discussion of the fiscal situation of Russia falls into two periods: (1) from the beginning of the war to October 14/27, 1917, when the Kerensky régime was overthrown; and (2) the period following the Bolshevist coup d'état.

From August 1, 1914 to the end of the year, the expenditures amounted to 2,546 million rubles; in 1915, they were 9,374.9 millions; 1916, 15,267 millions; and

1 London Economist, December 21, 1918.

⚫ Bulletin de Statistique et de Législation Comparée, May 1918, pp. 958, 959.

from January 1, 1917 to September 1, 1917, 14,204.8 millions; making a grand total of 42,392.7 million rubles. In October, 1917, the Minister of Finance stated that the total cost of the war would reach 51,470 million rubles by January 1, 1918.1

The growth of the national debt accompanying these tremendous outlays may be observed as follows: 2

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In the eight months of 1917 preceding the collapse of the Kerensky government, the public debt practically doubled, the total consisting of foreign loans, 8,461 million rubles; short-term obligations, 16,918.7 millions; internal loans, 11,408.2 millions; deficits incurred during the last three budget years, 2,611.6; and the pre-war debt of 9,888 millions.

Advances of the Bank of Russia to the Russian government played an important rôle in financing the war. On December 16/29, 1914, they totaled 1,016.9 million rubles; on December 16/29, 1915, 5,304.6 millions; on the same date of the following year, 8,591.2 millions and on October 16/29, 1917, they reached 18,362.2 million rubles. During the same interval the notes in circulation rose from 2,864 million to 16,519 million rubles. The internal war loans yielding 11,408.2 million rubles were made up as follows: 4

1 Viestnik Finansov, No. 39, October 14, 1917, pp. 369 et seq.

2 Ibid.

From the weekly statements of the Imperial Bank of Russia and the weekly reports contained in the London Economist.

Taken from Statesman's Yearbook, 1917, Introduction (£ converted into rubles at 9.45685); also Le Rentier, October 17, 1917; and L'Economiste Européen, December 14, 1917, p. 380.


State loan of 1914, 5 per cent, issued Oct., 1914, at 94
First loan of 1915, 5 per cent, issued Feb., 1915, at 94.
Second loan of 1915, 5 per cent, issued April, 1915, at 99.
Short-term loan of 1915, 5 per cent, issued Oct., 1915, at 95
First loan of 1916, 5 per cent, issued Feb., 1916, at 95. ...
Second loan of 1916, 5 per cent, issued Oct., 1916, at 95...

Total, to end of 1916.....

Liberty loan of 1917, 5 per cent (computed)1

Grand total..

Million rubles










The finances during the second period when the Bolsheviki assumed control can at best be inadequately described. Little reliable data are available, upon which conclusions may be based. The official Bolshevist organ, Isvestia, places the national debt on January 1/14, 1918, at 80,800 million rubles, composed as follows: external loans, 15,800 million rubles; direct internal debt (of every description and character), 44,000; indirect interior debt, 4,800; coupons" not presented and miscellaneous obligations, 15,200 millions.

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A tax on capital, similar to the German " Kapitalsteuer" and designed to yield 10 billion rubles, was levied on the "bourgeoisie" during the latter part of 1918. In some provinces the yield was only one tenthousandth of the estimate, and the results in general were so disappointing that it was considered "hardly worth entering in the budget as a separate item." Likewise the tax in kind on richer peasants which was supposed to produce 7 billion rubles in foodstuffs has proved to be negligible in its results. The taxation authorities in the provinces of Orel, Kaluga and Tula reported that they were unable to collect the tax.

1 Represents the difference between the aggregate internal loans as stated by the Minister of Finance and the total of the preceding items.

L'Economiste Européen, May 10, 1918, p. 299.

London Economist, March 1, 1919, pp. 367, 368; Journal des Economistes, February 15, 1919, article by A. Raffalovich," Finances bolcheviques en 1918," pp. 249

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