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  • BANK FOR INTERNATIONAL SETTLEMENTS

    TWENTY-SIXTH ANNUAL REPORT 1st APRIL 1955 — 31st MARCH 1956

    BASLE

    11th June 1956

  • TABLE OF CONTENTS Page

    I. In t roduc t ion i

    Financial position and activities of the B.I.S. (p. i), 1955 a year of remarkable achievement (p. 3), house-building in Europe and in the United States (p. 4), agricultural production (p. 5), world trade (p. 7), commodity prices (p. 8), the business cycle in the United States and western Europe since 1951 (p. 9), monetary policy and business activity (p. 10), monetary measures applied in countries with balance-of-payments difficulties (p. 12), monetary measures applied in order to moderate the boom (p. 12), avoidance of direct controls (p. 14); United States, conditions in 1955: demand for durable goods by producers and consumers (p. 16), credit financing (p. 17), Federal Reserve System's open-market operations (p. 18), particular measures of credit policy (p. 20); Canada, conditions in 1955 (p. 24), United States, foreign trade and payments (p. 25), gold reserves and short-term dollar balances held by countries other than the United States (p. 28'), saving by increased holdings of money by the public (p. 2g), unbalance between cost-and-price level and money supply in post-war years (p. 30)

    II. The Scope of Monetary Policy . 33

    Restraining the boom (p. 33), United Kingdom, economic developments: investment boom (p. 34), balance of payments (p. 34), budget (pp. 36, 41), banking (p. 37), capital market (p. 38), exchange rate (p. 39)', credit policies in: Australia and New Zealand (p. 43), Sweden (p. 45), Norway (p. 46), Denmark (p. 47), Finland (p. 49) ; Austria, balance of payments and monetary policy (p. 50), western Germany: balance of payments (p. 52), labour situation (p. 53), credit policy (p. 54); economic situation and monetary policy in: the Netherlands (p. 55), Belgium (p. 56), Switzerland (p. 57), Italy (p. 58), France (p. 60); U.S.S.R., budget and investments (p. 65), budgetary practice in other eastern European countries (p. 66), interest rates in western Europe and the United States (p. 67), monetary policy in relation to financial policy (p. 70), housing in western Europe (p. 71), instruments of credit policy: minimum cash requirements (p. 74), open-market operations (p. 74), selective rediscounting (p. 75); capital markets (p. 76), investments and savings (p. 77)

    III. Prices and Product ion . . . . 78

    Overall stability (p. 78), contrast between prices of industrial raw materials and agricultural prices (p. 78), developments in the prices of: copper (p. 80), aluminium (p. 81), tin (p, 82); steel price and production (p. 82), world coal production (p. 83), European Coal and Steel Community, price policy in regard to coal (p. 84), relative importance of main sources of energy (p- 85), world output of basic commodities (p. 8$), prices of agricultural products (p. 86); United States price-support programme (p. 86), prices of beverage commodities (p. 88), Hamburg coffee market (p. 88), Amsterdam and Rotterdam pepper market (p. 88), United States strategic stockpiling pro- gramme (p. 88), cost of living and wholesale prices in different countries (p. 8g), wage adjustments in certain countries (p. 90), wages and rationalisa- tion (p. 90)

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    IV. F o r e i g n T r a d e . 93

    Value and volume of world trade (p. 93), trade in manufactured products (p- 95) » freight rates and shipping space (p. 96), western Europe, earnings from shipping and tourist trade (p. 97), debtor and creditor countries on investment account (p. 98), foreign trade of: United States (p. 102), United Kingdom (p. 103), Ireland (p. 105), Iceland (p. 105), France (p. 106), Benelux countries (p. ioy), western Germany (p. 108), Austria (p. ill), Switzerland (p. Hi), Italy (p. 112), Portugal (p. 113), Spain (p. 114), Greece (p. 114), Turkey (p. 115), Yugoslavia (p. 115); east-west trade (p. 116), foreign trade of: Finland (p. 117), Denmark (p. 118), Norway (p. 119), Sweden (p. 120); liberalisation in O.E.E.C. countries (p. 120), G.A.T.T. (p. 124)

    V. F o r e i g n E x c h a n g e s 126

    Sterling rates (p. 126), United Kingdom, exchange control regulations (p. 128), relaxation of exchange restrictions in: western Germany (p. 129), France (p- 130), Belgium (p. 131), the Netherlands (p. 132), Italy (p. 132), Finland (p- 133), Yugoslavia (p. 133), Egypt (p. 134); devaluation in Pakistan (p- Z35), multiple-rate system in Indonesia (p. 135), Canadian dollar (p. 136), exchange system of: Argentina (p. 138), Brazil (p. 139), Peru (p. 140), Chile (p. 140), Nicaragua (p. 141), Paraguay (p. 141); fluctuating rates and stabilisation credits in Latin America (p. 141), liberalisation of trade and payments in western Europe (p. 142), official currency values (p. 144)

    VI. G o l d P r o d u c t i o n a n d M o n e t a r y R e s e r v e s 146

    Production of gold in: South Africa (p. 147), Canada (p. 149), the United States (p. 149), Australia and British West Africa (p. 149); gold markets and hoarding (p. 149), London gold market (p. 152), removal of restrictions on private gold transactions in Belgium and Canada (p. 153), monetary reserves (p. 154), gold and dollar settlements within the E.P.U. (p. 161), United Kingdom, sterling balances (p. 161), adequacy of monetary reserves (p. 163), external assistance and monetary reserves (p. 164)

    VII. M o n e y a n d C r e d i t 166

    End of era of rigid credit conditions (p. 166), official discount rates (p. 166), changes in the money supply (p. 168), credit policy in: United States (p. 169), United Kingdom (p. 172), France (p. 175), western Germany (p. 177), Italy (p. 180), Switzerland (p. 182), Austria (p. 184), Belgium (p. 185), the Netherlands (p. 186), Finland (p. 188), Denmark (p. 190), Norway (p. 191), Sweden (p. 192); effectiveness of flexible monetary policy (p. 193), money supply and the gross national product (p. 196)

    VIII. E u r o p e a n P a y m e n t s U n i o n 199

    Prolongation of the Union after June 1955 (p. 199), the operations up to March 1956 (p. 201), the financial position of the Union in the spring of 1956 (p. 206), the European Monetary Agreement (p. 211)

    IX. C u r r e n t A c t i v i t i e s of t h e B a n k . 215

    Operations of the Banking Department (p. 215), assets (p. 216), liabilities (p. 220), second section of the balance sheet (p. 222), Trustee and Fiscal

  • Page

    Agent for international government loans (p. 223), Depositary under the terms of the Act of Pledge concluded with the High Authority of the European Coal and Steel Community (p. 224), Agent for the O.E.E.C. (p. 225), financial results (p. 225), changes in the Board of Directors (p. 226)

    X. C o n c l u s i o n 228

    Balance sheet as at 31st March 1956 and Profit and Loss Account for the financial year ended 31st March 1956.

    LIST OF TABLES AND GRAPHS

    (Graphs are indicated by an asterisk) Page

    I. In t roduc t ion

    B.I.S. : Active resources and their utilisation 2 Gross national product and industrial production 3 House-building in European countries and the United States 5 Annual increase in agricultural production 6 Annual increase in world trade 7 International commodity prices* 8 United States: Gross national product and expenditure 10 O.E.E.C. countries: Gross national product and expenditure 11 O.E.E.C. countries: Savings and national product . 11 United Kingdom and United States: Official discount rates* 13 United States : Private expenditure on durable goods 16 United States: New capital and credit financing 17 United States : Federal Reserve Banks, assets and liabilities 18 United States: Member-bank reserve positions* 19 U.S. commercial banks: Assets and deposits 19 United States: Consumer credit outstanding* 22 United States: Earnings of workers 23 United States: Balance of payments 26 United States: Capital movements 27 Gold reserves and short-term dollar balances* 29

    II. T h e Scope of Mone ta ry Policy

    United Kingdom: Balance of payments 35 Sterling area: Balance of payments 35 United Kingdom : London clearing banks, money supply and liquidity ratio . . 37 United Kingdom: London clearing banks, selected items from returns* . . . 38 Sterling quotations in New York* 39 United Kingdom: Government finances and national product 42 Australia and New Zealand: Monetary indicators 44

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    Northern countries: Balance of payments 45 Western Germany: Balance of payments 52 Western Germany: Earnings and the cost of living* 54 Belgium: Government finances and national product 57 Italy: Balance of payments 59 Italy: Government finances 60 France: Balance of payments • . • 61 France: Gold and foreign exchange reserves* 62 France: Government finances and national product 63 France: Formation of the money supply 64 U.S.S.R. : State investments 65 U.S.S.R.: State budget 66 The interest-rate pattern towards the end of 1955 68 Housing in eleven western European countries 72

    III. P r i c e s a n d P r o d u c t i o n

    Index of world-market commodity prices* 79 Index of world-market commodity prices 79 Prices of five non-ferrous metals* 81 World production of crude steel 82 World production of hard coal 83 European Coal and Steel Community: Trade in coal and coke 84 World production of basic commodities 85 United States: Parity ratio and accumulation of stocks* . 87 United States: Price-support programme and the parity ratio 87 Movements of prices of beverage commodities* 88 Changes in the cost of living and in wholesale prices 89

    IV. F o r e i g n T r a d e

    World trade, in current dollars and in terms of stable prices* 93 Turnover of world trade 94 Volume of exports of different areas 94 World ex

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