Pagina:Scientia - Vol. IX.djvu/407

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399 THE “IMPATIENCE THEORY„ OF INTEREST

streams; and that it is high (1) if the people are shiftless, short-sighted, impulsive, selfish, or (2) if they have small or ascending income-streams.

History shows that the facts accord with these conclusions. The communities and nationalities which are most noted for the qualities mentioned — foresight, self-control, and regard for posterity — are probably Holland, Scotland, England, France. Among these people interest has been low. Moreover, they have been money lenders; they have the habit of thrift or accumulation, and their instruments of wealth are in general of a durable kind.

On the other hand, among communities and peoples noted tor lack of foresight and for negligence with respect to the future are China, India, Java, the negro communities in the Southern states, the peasant communities of Russia, and the North and South American Indians, both before and after they had been pushed to the wall by the white men. In all of these communities we and that interest is high, that there is a tendency to run into debt and to dissipate rather than to accumulate!! capital, and that their dwellings and other instruments are of a very flimsy and perishable character, built for immediate, not remote, gratification. This is true even where, as in China, the people are industrious. Industry without patience will work only for immediate gratification.

These examples illustrate the effect on the rate of interest of differences in human nature. We now turn to illustrations of differences in the time-shape of incomes. The most striking examples of increasing income-streams are found in new countries. It may be said that the United States has almost always belonged to this category. In America we see exemplified on a very large scale the truth of the theory that a rising income-stream raises, and a falling income-stream depresses, the rate of interest, or that these conformations of the income-stream work out their effects in other equivalent forms. A similar causation may be seen in particular localities in the United States, especially where changes have been rapid, as in mining communities. In California, in the two decades between 1850 and 1870, following the discovery of gold, the income-stream of that state was increasing at a prodigious rate. During this period the rates of interest were abnormally high. The current rates in the « early days » were