chapter  4
The bias of capital
Pages 10

The decades when the competitiveness of British industry began to wane also witnessed the export of an enormous quantity of British capital. British overseas investment between 1875 and 1914 was in the order of £2-3 billion. Portfolio investment in the financial instruments of foreign governments and enterprises by itself accounted for “about £4.5 each year for every man, woman, and child in England, Scotland, and Wales” and this during a period when “national income amounted on average to less than £40 per person per year” (Davis and Huttenback 1988:36). The annual accumulation of assets abroad represented about one-third of all British investment in the years 1870-1913. By the First World War foreign securities accounted for 48 per cent of the nominal value of all the issues traded on the London Stock Exchange and foreign assets for 33 per cent of all British wealth (Edelstein 1971: 83-4; and Edelstein 1981:70).