AUSTRIA - 1949

Gedye, G. E. R.

AUSTRIA - 1949 part 2: the rood to recovery By G, E. R. Gedye r--s Mr, Gedye is head oi the Vienna Bureau of the London Daily Herald. and cover* all of Southeast Europe for that newspaper....

...THE COMMUNIST STORY thai hard-heeded businessmen expected to get Marshall Flan good...
...A considerably increased note circulation due to the extension of credit and the release of balances temporarily frozen in connection with the currency conversion had, thank* to price controls, no effect on prices or wages, the former showing now a slow but steady tendency to fall, with wages stable...
...But as long ..ii ihepaity r: as...
...Wages did not catch up until the autumn of 1948...
...During that month and the following, prices for agricultural products went up 60 percent...
...Since Christinas prices have fallen rapidly, largely as a result of the intensive Socialist campaign against profiteering...
...Don't buy from pi ire-forcers...
...The retention of controls only so long as the shortages exist is all that is planned...
...by 33'percent...
...Official controllers of market prices recorded on January 17 a marked fall in the prices of poultry, fruit and vegetables...
...How could it be with the restriction...
...This article is the final one of a series of two on the present situation in Austria...
...Howcan it be with so much of its industrial plant, and nearly all its "liquid gold" the vast oilfields at Zisteisdorf and elsewhere seized and being worked by the Russians for their Own profit, while Iho heavy burden of occupation costs remains...
...Thero is no question of lifting all controls...
...as well as for household articles...
...In September, in anticipation of currency reform, industrial prices got ahead again...
...The real trouble with prices is that while the output of capital goods (to replace the enormous war-damage) lias risen to 150 percent of the 1937 figure, that of consumer goods which also badly need replacement -is only 70 percent of the 1937 output...
...THE MORAL EFFECT of freeing textiles and other factory products from control has been considerable, but the prices are still higher than the worker can afford...
...Price reductions which will increase the real value of wages, rather than a paper wage increase which would start prices soaring again, is to be the objective of the "spring offensive" of the Socialists...
...con.-.i-ioui, of its sliortcou.inpi, 11.'i self critical and as energetic in seeking remedies u:> it is, as long .'is it is filled with the spirit of...
...Industrial output i ore by 47 percent bet we...
...Socialist thought regards the ^present controls as a regrettably necessary concomitant of short supplies, not as a desirable part of long-term planning...
...But many manufacturers and shopkeepers started to evade price controls...
...The process started even before Christmas, when the Socialists secured Govei niiicnl approval for tininfliction of severe penalties on profiteers, while they plastered the city with their simple poster: "Fight with the Socialists...
...Last September, to encourage the peasants to deliver their fixed quotas to the official markets, ihey were permitted to increase prices...
...Socialist influence over planning can remedy this disproportion, and the road to that lies through the ballot box...
...without payment is...
...Socialist progress and the will to victory as it is, its comrades outside Austria have no cause t,o worry...
...The false inferences drawn are not...
...In addition there was a 6 percent all-around wage increase, borne by employers coupled with an absolute price ceiling...
...They can rest assured that the party today upholds every one of the high ideals of Adler, Bauer and SoiU which made it a model among progressive and aggressive Socialist movements throughout the WUllu...
...Ask any Budapest worker what are his chances of buying the luxury articles in the Vaci ut or *ven of replacing shoes or clothing, or eating meat more than once a week...
...But only a government in which the Socialist Party, if not itself governing the country, is at least the senior instead of as at present the junior partner in a coalition, will bo able to exert the pressure necessary to secure from the peasantry and from abroad piopei sup plies of milk, fats and meat at pi ices which the workers can lie expected to pay...
...Kvil more effective was the cut in the Vienna cooperative store prices, from,live to filteen percent, for such foodstuffs as tea, coffee, cocoa and i hocolale...
...ALL IS NOT WELL in Austria...
...Agriculluial output improved only slightly but milk production increased by 10 to 15 percent...
...Since everyone is free to buy lit these Socialist run Co-ops, which are established all over Vienna, other shops were forced to follow, and week by week prices for such goods have continued to drop...
...THAT COMMUNISTS and "Cryptos" are filled with bitterness when they contrast the evidence of the amazing Austrian recovery (based on the Marshall Plan) in the shape of well-filled shop windows with those of the capitals behind the Iron Curtain is excusable...
...This was accepted by the workers' representatives as the maximum which could be attained without resort to the inflation which the Communists oought to force by their demagogic slogan of "twentyfive percent...
...It is against such evasions that the Socialists have been campaigning with such success...
...and limitations imposed by tlnj licence of Russia H.I one of the occupying powi.ru and all the consequences ai ising out of this...
...One happy result of the removal of certain controls has been a sensational collapse of black market prices...
...All i.t not well with the Socialist I'artv...
...The dilTcri lire between the cost of h\mg (based "ii official prices) and wage:, dropped ..Inline, 1948 horn 17 lo 15,1 percent, but a concurrent drop "I 79 percent in black market food meant that the purchasing power . I the workei'.V wa",< s really men a-.i d a got .-I di si inoi e than luo ¦ figure-, ii \eat...
...Britain has been meeting her occupation Costs recently out of the balance of sums supplied in the past by the Austrian...
...But in August equilibrium was restored by wage increases...
...This shortage enabled many manufacturers to break the price-wage agreement of 1948 and stealthily to increase the cost of their goods...
...Russia has, of couisi , taken the lion's share of occupation costs tluougliout and released the fewest requisitioned hotels, hospitals and pi ivale.houses...
...There is often difficulty in paying immediately for an enormous quantity of a specific law material suddenly put on the Austrian market by American suppliers...
...Now a slow but sU»ady tendency downward has set in...
...Last year Austria had to find IM,000,000 schillings to pay for the luxury of continued, occupation by her "liberators...
...Unfortunately there is little doubt that she will hortly make fresh demands on the Austrian < xrhoquer...
...A similar cut in prices for printed cotton goods, bedding and women's shoes and stockings occurred more recently...
...How little difficulty Austriu has in trading with the West (her special machinery now comes from Britain and Switzerland instead of as before from Germany) is shown by the fact that she now has the biggest volume of trade with the following countries in the following sequence: Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Czechoslovakia, Britain, Poland and the United States...
...Between September, 1947, and September, 1948, the percentage of workers putting in overtime varied between 8,2 and 10.7 percent...
...He will contribute future articles to The Sew Leader, however, en current conditions in southeastern European countries...
...At the same time workers were granted a cost-of-living bonus of ;i.r> schillings a month, which hut to be borne by the employer, plus an allowance of 23 schillings a month for each child, which the State carried...
...n October If) 17 s,n I Octnbei 1948, individual out put iniica...
...of course, silly...
...It is small consolation for her to be assured by her non-paying guests that being held in the tutelage of four Great Powers stives ho the cost of an Army ¦ if her own which she is not allowed In posse.su...
...The ¦1.788,000 schillings she has had to hand over since the beginning would, the Socialists claim, have paid for the construction of 65,000 workers' homes...
...He is not, however, in such desperate straits that he must resort to "slave-labor" to satisfy his needs, Socialist statistics collected from over 1.600 large and medium concerns show that comparatively little overtime is worked...
...The January report of the Institute for Economic Statistics gives an en i ouraging and incontestable picture ol Austria's steady progress...
...To give the manufacturers a chance to start selling the manufactured product before payment is due, the Marshall Planners now accept a simple, interest-free acknowledgement of indebtedness for two months, after which the usual interest bearing instruments of payment is used...
...Let us admit at once that price increases have outstripped wage increases, and that many of the good things are inaccessible to the workers...
...Unemployment never rose above the low figure of 3 percent...
...Exports increased during the year by ')4 pei cent, and in October rose to 60 percent of the 1917 figure...
...Tl e Americans pay their own way in dollars...
...Prices generally began to outstrip wages in June 1947...

Vol. 32 • March 1949 • No. 11


 
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