The World Silver Situation

April 6, 1931

Report Outline
Proposed Internation Conference on Silver
Silver Agitation of the Nineties and Today
Silver and Gold Since the World War
The Silver Market: Causes of Price Decline
Consequences of Falling Silver Prices
Suggested Remedies for Silver Situation
Special Focus

Proposed Internation Conference on Silver

During recent months silver has become the subject of active discussion and controversy in the United States for the first time since 1896. Toward the close of the last session of Congress two resolutions were offered in the Senate by Senator Pittman of Nevada, a leading silver producing state, citing the fall in the price of silver during 1929–30 as the chief cause of the decline in the trade of the United States with China and suggesting as remedies: first, that the President open negotiations with various governments which have been selling silver, with a view to halting this practice; and second, that the President discuss with the government of China and other governments the possibility of large silver loans to those governments. In support of these resolutions Senator Pittman submitted the report of the subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Commercial Relations with China of which he served as chairman.

Proposed International Conference on Silver

The first of Senator Pittman's resolutions was favorably reported by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, February 20, 1931, and was adopted by the Senate the same day. In addition to calling for negotiations with foreign governments to suspend the practice of selling silver, the resolution “further respectfully suggests that the President, if he deem it compatible with the best interests of the government, call or obtain an international conference, or international conferences, to the end that agreements or understandings may be obtained with respect to the uses and status of silver as money.” No action was taken by the Senate on Senator Pittman's second resolution, which dealt with a possible silver loan to China.

The President has not complied to date with the Senate's suggestion of an international conference on silver, although ho has referred its resolution to various government departments for their comments, and has discussed the subject with western senators since the adjournment of Congress. Published reports that he was preparing to call a conference of Treasury and Federal Reserve officials, bankers and business men to consider the proposed international conference were characterized at the White House, April 4, as “absolutely and unqualifiedly untrue.” This statement was taken to indicate a lack of sympathy with the purpose of the Senate resolution. It has been suggested that while it might be considered inappropriate for the United States to call an international conference, the President would be willing to have this country represented at any conference called either by Mexico, as the largest silver-producing country, or by China, as the largest silver-consuming country. On behalf of the British government it has been stated that, while Great Britain would not call such a conference as has been suggested, it would willingly participate in any conference on silver called by another government.

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