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sent abroad to be credited to the accounts of the respective banks, and to be rediscounted with the Bank of Sweden.
It is, if possible, still more difficult than in the case of bills of exchange, to find from the official bank statistics any indication of the magnitude of the amounts within the limits of which the financing of the foreign trade of Swedish industries takes place. The items »bills on the security of shipping documents », which is found in the official monthly statements, represents only those bills in which the banks themselves figure on behalf of their customers or documentary credit firms. The accounts which the banks keep for this branch of activity come under the headings »Profits» or »Expenses and Sundries», and can in no way be estimated by outsiders. Probably, however, no one will demur to an assumption that considerably more than half of all our imports and exports are actually financed by the commereial banks. It is true that there are concerns strong enough to finance themselves in this respect, and do not discount their foreign bills with a bank but keep them till maturity, but these are few in number. In the official statistics dealing with the export and import figures of Sweden, therefore, it should be possible to read the probable extent to which the banks have contributed to the exchange of commodities between Sweden and foreign countries on behalf of industry. The following table shows side by side that part of Sweden's imports, varying between 52 % and 68 %, which, according to the official statistics, has gone to industry (comprising industrial raw materials, machinery, sundries, etc.) and the whole of our exports. All these figures have been reduced to gold values according to the mean quotation for the dollar each year.
Even if one reckons that only 60 % of these values, which primarily represent the share of industry in Sweden's foreign trade, passes through the banks, their assistance will none the less be of decisive importance, and that not only from the standpoint of industry itself, but also from that of the whole of Swedish economic life. To this must be added the fact that even the concerns which are in a position to finance themselves must always make use of the banks to collect the funds they receive in payment for goods sold both at home and abroad. This collection of accounts does not, it is true, involve any financing on the part of the banks, except in cases where some payment has been made in advance, but it is nevertheless an expression of one of the forms of service which the banks render to the public.
The adaptation of banking activ ity to the development and the requirements of industry which thus characterizes the Swedish banking system stands, in its general scope, in close relation to what has happened in most civilized countries possessing a highly developed business organization. Nevertheless, the forms under which this adaptation has evolved have been different in different countries. Just in proportion as these forms have varied during the past decade, so have experiences been different in regard to the banking system adopted, especially in the matter of the effect on this system of the depression in business during the last few years. A natural consequence of the degree of closeness with which the banks in some countries have identified themselves with the operations of industrial concerns — for instance, by long credits and non-liquid securities — is that the crippling of the industry by a depression in business will affect the banks, while an opposite policy makes the position of the banks more independent of changes in business conditions affecting industry. This state of affairs is illustrated by the present situation in the British and the Scandinavian banking world respectively. Thus the British banking system has suffered very little from the setback that the depression has caused to industrial concerns, a fact mainly due to the free position these banks occupy with regard to the undertakings they finance. The capital sums which they find are granted for only relatively short terms with strict conditions as to repayment, and against liquid securities. And indeed there have been singularly few failures in the British banking world. In Sweden, on the other hand, as in Denmark and Norway, the depression in industry has involved the banks in perhaps one of the severest ordeals that has ever been experienced. After the reconstructions that have been effected they have emerged from the crisis with renewed strength. An ever more and more urgent problem for Swedish banking policy is to find, with the help of the experience gained, the means for safeguarding the position of the banks without risking the efficacy of the sound relations they entertain with industrial concerns.
The Foreign Shipping of Sweden
The geographical situation of Sweden has had the result that the inhabitants of the country have at all times obtained their necessaries and exported their products by sea. In olden times, when the sea-robberies of the Vikings had ceased with the introduction of Christianity, the peaceful exchange of commodities between Sweden and other countries was mainly conducted in foreign bottoms; but gradually with the growth of a large maritime trade there was created a native merehant fleet.
Swedish shipping, of course, like that of other foreign seafaring nations, has experienced many vicissitudes, and periods of progress have not infrequently been followed by periods of marked retrogression. During the long calm of peace which Sweden has now been privileged to enjoy for more than a hundred years, however, the shipping trade and the merehant fleet of Sweden have attained a devolepment of no mean dimensions. In the year 1795 the shipping towns of Sweden had 721 vessels of about 83,200 tons; and in the year 1830, the first year for which we have official statistics with regard to the size of the Swedish mereantile marine numbered 1,841 of 130,341 tons, the vessels net. The greater part of this consisted of sailing vessels, and only a small number of small steam vessels were included in the total. Twenty years later, i. e. in 1850, the Swedish mereantile marine consisted of 2,744 vessels of 204,464 tons net. At the close of the century the Swedish merehant fleet consisted of 2,987 vessels of 613,792 tons net.
The course of development during later years is shown by the appended figures, which refer to the close of the years named.
On 31 December 1922 the total number of Swedish merehant vessels, according to the preliminary statistics, comprised 1,246 steamships of 920,781 tons gross and 645,327 tons net, 775 motorships of 212,927 tons gross and 157,269 tons net, and 868 sailing ships of 107,554 tons gross and 92,195 tons net, altogether 2,889 vessels of 1,241,262 tons gross and 894,791 tons net.
A comparison with the aggregate mereantile tonnage of the world, according to the international shipping statistics, shows that the Swedish mereantile marine at the present time amounts to about 1-7 % of the whole world's tonnage.
The above figures with regard to the Swedish mereantile marine ought to be amplified by a brief mention with regard to the average carrying capacity of the vessels, their classification, mode of construction and manning. The average burden per vessel on different kinds of trades is as follows, with regard to the mechanically propelled vessels: in the ocean trade, 4,500 tons gross; in the North Sea trade, 1,750 tons gross; in the Baltic trade, 500 tons gross; and in coastwise and inland navigation trade 250 tons gross. With regard to classification, about 87 % of the steam tonnage and about 40 % of the sailing tonnage is classified in different registries. With regard to mode of construction the iron and steel vessels form about 87 %, the wooden vessels about 12 %, and the vessels of mixed construction about 2 %, of the total gross tonnage. The crews on steam vessels number 14,573 persons, those on motor vessels 1,384, and those on sailing vessels 5,080, or altogether 21,037 men, to which must be added 1,563 women employed in the vessels.
In earlier days the increment in the Swedish mereantile marine was for the most part effected by the purehase of foreign vessels, new or old. With the outbreak of the late war, however, Swedish shipowners had to rely for the acquisition of new vessels exclusively on the native shipbuilding industry, which also rapidly adapted itself to the changed conditions by extensions and by the establishment of new yards.
In this connection special mention should be made of what Swedish shipowners have done in the matter of the most up-to-date type of vessels, namely those known as motor vessels. In this respect Sweden may take credit for being earlier than other countries not only in pereeiving the advantages of oil over coal for working vessels, but also in turning this to account in such a way that the Swedish shipping trade took the foremost place in the solution of the problem of using oil as a driving foree for vessels. After the Diesel engine had been submitted to practical tests on various small Swedish vessels, this type of oil engine was also introduced on Swedish ocean-going vessels, of which last no fewer than 30 with an aggregate indicated horse-power of 73,000 and an aggregate gross tonnage of 134,600 tons are at present included in the Swedish merehant fleet. This motor tonnage, which for the most part is quite new, undoubtedly forms a potent evidence of the capacity of Swedish shipping to adopt the constantly advancing of technical improvements in chip construction.
Swedish shipping connections with foreign countries were, on the whole, restricted to such neighbouring countries as Great Britain, Germany, France, etc., till some fifteen years ago. It was in the year 1904 that the first two Swedish regular transoceanic lines came into existence after much preliminary work; but these were quickly followed by others, so that regular Swedish overseas services are now maintained to all other continents by the following shipping concerns.
The Transatlantic Shipping Company commenced operations in 1904 with the establishment of a regular service to South Africa. In a short time, however, owing to the difficulty of obtaining return cargoes from Africa, the line was extended to Australia. Further extensions were afterwards added, by the establishment of a new line to the Malay Arehipelago and Java in 1914, and to the Persian Gulf in 1915. In 1917 the company extended its operations to the United States, in which connection two new lines were brought into existence — from India to North America and from North America to Sweden. Owing to changed conditions of trade, however, the two last-mentioned lines have been temporarily suspended, but the ships of the company are still run on the route Sweden—United States—Cuba—Sweden. In the meantime another line has been established between Australia and the west coast of North America. At the present time the company operates a fleet of 30 steamers and motor vessels with an aggregate gross tomiage of l31,300 tons.
In 1904 the Nordstjernan Shipping Company (Johnson line) instituted a regular traffic on the La Plata countries, and in 1919 also on Brazilian ports. In the year 1914 the company started two new services, namely to the North and South Pacific coast of America, in addition to which a new service to the West Indies and Central America stands on the program of the company, The Company's fleet consists of 11 modern motor vessels, aggregating about 48,000 tons gross.
An important step in Swedish oceanic navigation was taken in 1907, when the Swedish East Asiatic Company opened maritime connections with the Straits Settlements, China and Japan. In the beginning of 1914 the company forged a further link in its scheme of service round Asia with a service between Sweden and India. At the present time the company's fleet comprises 9 vessels, two of which are motorships, of a total tonnage of about 46,400 tons gross.
The next overseas line established was the Swedish America—Mexico Line, whose activity began at the close of the year 1912. From the year 1914 onwards, traffic has been maintained on two routes, one northerly and one southerly, the former between ports in Sweden and Finland and ports on the eastern coast of the United States, while the latter is mainly concerned with ports in the Gulf of Mexico. Its fleet consists of three steamers and two motorships, together of about 21,600 tons gross.
The next direct line is in point of time the Sweden-North-America Line, the coming into existence of which undoubtedly forms an epoch in Swedish overseas shipping development. This service — which, unlike the other Swedish ocean lines, was established mainly as a passenger line — was opened in 1915 between Gothenburg and New York with one fairly large passenger steamer. Since then, however, its operations have been further extended to include another ship. The traffic is maintained at present by three steamers of which one is chartered. A new Diesel passenger ship of 18,000 tons has been ordered in England, bringing the total gross tonnage up to nearly 40,000 tons.
The youngest Swedish ocean line is the Hugo Persson Line, established in 1919, to Venezuela and Colombia and the West Indies.
Among the larger and more notable Swedish shipowning concerns may also be mentioned the Grangesberg—Oxelosund mining company, which has a shipping department dealing with the bulk of the company's shipment of iron-ore. The company's fleet comprises 18 vessels with an aggregate gross tonnage of about 79,300.
Before the above overseas services had come into existence, regular traffic was maintained with most European countries. The largest of the present owners of such lines is the Svenska Lloyd Shipping Company, with 46 vessels of about 85,400 tons gross, in services to Great Britain, France, Spain and several of the Mediterranean countries. Amongst other similar Swedish concerns may be mentioned the new Gotha Steamship Company (9 vessels of about 11,200 tons gross), with regular sailings on French, Belgian and Dutch ports; the Sweden—Levant Shipping Company (7 vessels of about 15,800 tons gross), with connections with Morocco, Egypt, Asia Minor, and Black Sea ports, etc.; and the Svea Shipping Company of Stockholm (30 vessels of about 42,800 tons gross), which maintains, in addition to Swedish coastwise traffic, regular services especially to England, France, and countries round the Baltic.
There is further to be mentioned the services Sweden—Morocco—West Africa,