May 23. 1868.

The Economist, 23. Mai 1868. S. 585/586.
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The French „Credit Mobilier“.

It issued new shares upon a flourishing prospectus and a good account of profits, being all the while in difficulties and having hardly cash to pay its way. At two meetings, on 12. Febr. 1866 und 1st March, 1866, the Credit Mobilier doubled its capital; at these meetings a Report was read exhibiting large profits and declaring a good dividend. These meetings were informal und packed. The Co on. on the 1st. Febr. was insecure and dangerous. Unless out of the new capital it could pay no dividend upon the old capital. Court decides in this sense.

It is a bank which did the business of a Finance Co. It had deposits to amount of £4,783,074, of which all but insignificant part on demand. Its Assets, exclusive of Railway and other shares upon which advances had been obtained, were:

Bills Discounted 586,564
Advances to Public Cos. 2,158,853
Do. To Sundry Debtors 1,868,497
Cash 837,246
Total 5,451,160.

But the Court says that the cash was mostly wanted to pay a Dividend due; that of the advances to sundry debtors hardly any could be easily called in, and of some the repayment was dubious; and out of 2,158,000l set down as advanced to Public Cos. more than 2 Mill. £ were advanced, without a security, to a single Co., the Compagnie Immobilière, which was insolvent. So scarcely any real cash in hand, and no means of getting it. The Court has decided that the directors must reimburse the new shareholders. The new capital of the Credit Mobilier is 2,400,000£.

The Economist, 23. Mai 1868. S. 586–588.
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The Bonus System in Paying Workmen.

Evidence received by Trades Unions’ Commissioners on limited liability firm: „Msrs Briggs, of Whitwood and Methley Junction Collieries, near Normanton“, into which a number of workmen have been admitted as shareholders, while all have divided among them in bonus half the profits of the firm above 10% on their capital. The same mixed system of association and bonus tried with success by Greening and Son, Manchester.

A Co (in the case of Briggs) was formed on 1st May, 1865, with shares of 15£ each, of which 10£ paid up. The number of original shares was 9,000; but 1000 more since created, the whole being allotted as follows:

6,450 or above 2/3 to the old partners of Msrs Briggs, 1,068 to customers; 1,874 to the public, 114 to non resident agents, and 264 to workmen; 230 not allotted of the last issue of 1,000 shares being reserved to the workmen. The actual number |69 of shares held by the workmen is 178 – the remaining 86 counted to them being held by 9 managers, clerks etc; and of these 178 shares, 94 are held by 83 miners, and 84 by 61 top hands, 6 being the largest number held by one individual. As there are 989 workmen employed – 785 miners and 204 surface hands – this gives a proportion of 1 shareholder out of every 91/2 miners, and 1 out of every 31/3 surface hands. Two years have now elapsed – and it is the practice – there is no condition in the articles of association – to divide the profits above 10% between the workmen and the firm, the shareholding workmen getting both the bonus and the dividends on their shares.

During the first year, the profits amounted to 14 P.Ct. on the capital, of which, according to the arrangement, shareholders got 12%, and 2% went for bonus. During the second year, the profits were 16 P.Ct., the shareholders getting 13 P.Ct., and the bonus being 3 P.Ct. The actual amount divided in bonus was in the 1st year 1,800l. und in the second 2,700l. And these sums were sufficient to add 10 P.Ct. and 12 P.Ct. to the earnings of working shareholders, and 5 P.Ct. and 8 P.Ct. to the earnings of nonworking shareholders. The two classes have not received alike, the working shareholders receiving in the first year double what was paid to their to their fellow workmen, and in the 2nd year one half more.

The average bonus of the whole workmen, top and bottom, was in the 1st year 3l. 9s. 2d.; 2nd year: 3l. 3s. 2d.; and the highest sums got by any single workman, 10l. 18s. 101/2d. and 9l. 17s. 10d. The payment of the bonus was made conditional on the workmen taking out a pass book, in which the amounts of their wages were to be entered, the pass book costing 1d; and in the 1st year only 30% qualified, but in the 2nd 80%.

The proprietors are satisfied, because formerly, with disputes, waste, and loss of time, they never got 10% on their capital, but have now been getting 12 and 13 P.Ct. The bulk of the men are satisfied, though some are „not sure about it“. In the open market, the shares quoted at 4l. 5s. to 4l. 10s. Premium.

The Briggs had quarrels mit their workmen since 1853 „off and on“, but with violent crises in the dispute in 1853, 1858, and 1863. In 1858 there was a deal of rioting, and some of the men were sentenced to imprisonment. Briggs received letter, that he would be shot in 13 days. In 1863 the dispute was very bitter. The distrust shown by the neglect of the men to take out the passbooks so as to ensure the bonus. They were utterly incredulous that any bonus would be paid. … Calmness with which a late reduction of wages was accepted. … Formerly the Briggs had endless wranglings about weighing, and the men voted themselves frequent play days – a very serious matter, as the daily expenses for pumping etc 120l., whether the men work or not. Scheme still in an experimental stage. Und difficulty in adjusting matters between shareholding and nonworking shareholders in regard to the Bonus.

Circumstances hitherto favourable to the experiment. Business was profitable. In the 2nd year, besides making all necessary allowances for wear and tear etc, the dividend 16 P.Ct., but in addition 8,000£ was carried to a general reserve fund, so that a profit of upwards of 20 P.Ct. made. Failure of similar experiment by Fox, Head, et Co in the Iron Trade, through business being unprofitable. … A distinction cannot be made between stores required for repairs and new works…

Briggs explains that in a business where 70 P.Ct. of the annual outgoings is for wages, it is essential to have the workmen on the capitalist’s side and bestowing extra care on the work. They had the power to throw away nearly all the profits by carelessness and indifference.

Among the miners, the most numerous and important class, the proportion of shareholders only 1 to 91/2. A good many of the men still keep subscribing to their Trades Union. The second qualification to the success is the difficulty about the bonus. First of all, it is not secured in any way. The firm can do each year what they please about it, and for all practical purposes the Briggs are the firm – the public and the workmen do not count.

The Briggs wish to make the bonus of all equal; it is to the bonus chiefly that they trust – and not to the shareholding – for extra care. The workmen shareholders on the other hand are anxious to make the holding of shares a real part of the programme, desire to keep nonshareholders from an equal bonus.

Even if the workmen become all shareholders, the substantial character of the whole undertaking – the grant by a capitalist of a bonus to his workmen terminable at pleasure – will not be altered. … It will [be] a long time, the more enthusiastic of the men believe, before a miners’ cooperative association can do what is done in cotton spinning in Rochdale.


  • Inhaltsverzeichnis von Friedrich Engels
  • 1869 I Heft
  • Money Market. 1868.
  • Money Market Review. Jahrgang 1868.
  • The Economist. Jahrgang 1868. Nachträge
    • The Economist. Jahrgang 1868.
    • Inhaltsregister für 1868 Jahrgang. („Money Market Review“ und „Economist“.)
    • Kommentar zu George Joachim Goschen
      • George J. Goschen: The Theory of the Foreign Exchange. 7th edit. London 1866.
      • Friedrich Ernst Feller, Carl Gustav Odermann: Das Ganze der kaufmännischen Arithmetik
      • Inhalt.